Category Archives: FC Barcelona

Messi in search of ‘New Duo’

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The start of the new season signals the beginning of a new era for Lionel Messi at Barcelona.


The Argentine is back in competitive action on Sunday for the first time since the 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich which prompted his transfer request.

What’s more, Messi will be without his partner in crime – Luis Suarez – for the first time since the Uruguayan joined Barcelona in 2014.

Suarez was the latest in a long line of teammates to strike a bond with Messi at the Camp Nou after Ronaldinho, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Samuel Eto’o, David Villa, Pedro and Neymar, to name a few.

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Suarez’s departure to Atletico Madrid leaves Messi to play alongside Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho in attack.

There’s also Ansu Fati, the great hope of the academy, plus Martin Braithwaite and Francisco Trincao as options going forward.

In midfield, Frenkie de Jong and Miralem Pjanic will look to feed the ball into Messi and his attacking associates.

In what could be his final campaign as a Blaugrana player, the mythical No.10 will want to go out with a bang.


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Lonely Messi; ‘Tragic Story of Barcelona’s M.S.N departure

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Luis Suarez’s departure is the latest blow for Lionel Messi at Barcelona.


The two South Americans are close friends and have shared an equally profitable relationship on the football pitch during their time at Camp Nou.

Once Suarez’s move to Atletico Madrid was confirmed, Messi didn’t hide his disappointment and bewilderment at Barcelona.

The Uruguayan is the latest teammate and friend of Messi’s to leave the Catalan club as he becomes more and more isolated.

The first in this long list is Cesc Fabregas, who came through the youth ranks at Barcelona with Messi.


The Spanish midfielder swapped Blaugrana for Chelsea in 2014, moving to Jose Mourinho’s outfit and returning to the Premier League.

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The next big name to go was Neymar, who preferred Paris Saint-Germain’s project to Barcelona’s – a decision he would later regret.

There was a lot of talk over a possible return to the Camp Nou for the Brazilian last summer, but Barcelona never managed to strike a deal.

Alongside Suarez, Arturo Vidal is another of Messi’s close allies to have left the Camp Nou this summer, with the midfielder opting to join Inter.


In the dugout, Messi wasn’t happy with the decision to sack Ernesto Valverde, with whom he had an excellent relationship.

The captain didn’t get on with Valverde’s successor, Quique Setien, and now his relationship with Ronald Koeman is cold and distant.

As for the boardroom, Messi was never shied away from criticising Josep Maria Bartomeu and his board at Barcelona.

The Argentina international didn’t mince his words when speaking about the current president after his transfer request was blocked.

Instead, Messi misses the relationship he shared with Joan Laporta, a president who always looked out for and protected him.


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Neymar joins Messi in critisicing FC Barcelona

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Neymar joined Lionel Messi in questioning Barcelona’s decision to let Luis Suarez go during the current transfer window.


Messi’s Instagram post criticising the Catalan club drew reactions from teammates, past and present, as well as a number of other figures in football.

Neymar, who played alongside Messi and Suarez in the MSN front three at the Camp Nou, couldn’t help but wade in on the action.

“It’s incredible how they do things,” the Brazilian commented on Messi’s post, referring to Barcelona.


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Shocking: Diego Forlan criticizes Barca

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Diego Forlan isn’t surprised at how Luis Suarez was forced out of the door by Barcelona.


After being told he wasn’t part of Ronald Koeman’s plans for the coming season, the Uruguayan has signed for Atletico Madrid.

Lionel Messi was critical of the way Barcelona handled his teammate’s situation and Forlan seems to echo those views.

“What the club have done with Suarez has happened with other players over the course of history,” Forlan told Radio MARCA.

“The most important thing is that he gave everything for Barcelona.

“There’s nothing he can regret.”

Suarez follows Forlan’s footsteps in becoming the latest Uruguayan international to play for Atletico.

“A player like Suarez fits in well at a club like Atleti,” Forlan added.

“I think he’s going to feel right at home.

“Let’s hope he can help the team and fight for the top positions [in LaLiga Santander].

“Luis Suarez, Joao Felix and Diego Costa could form Atletico Madrid’s trident.”


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Messi is still the best player in the world – Unai Emery

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Unai Emery is under no illusions how tough Sunday’s match against Barcelona will be for his Villarreal side.


The game, due to be held at the Camp Nou, will be Barcelona’s first in LaLiga Santander this season, whereas Villarreal have already played two.

When looking ahead to Sunday’s meeting, Emery picked out the possible threats facing Villarreal, including that of Lionel Messi.

“Messi is going to have his connections on the pitch and his individual chances to score,” Emery admitted.

“Whether that’s with shots or his combinations with [Jordi] Alba, Sergi Roberto, [Antoine] Griezmann or just himself.

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“He’s a player who always causes problems and that’s going to be the case for the whole 90 minutes.

“He’s still a very tricky player [to face] – a player that we think has been and continues being the best in the world.”

Under Emery, Villarreal will be looking to push on after their fifth place finish in LaLiga Santander last season.

“We’re excited and optimistic coming into this,” the Villarreal boss added.

“The league is always open, but you first have to remember that Real Madrid ended last season strongly and that Barcelona still have great players, which is why [those two] are the favourites [to win the title].

“Then you have Atletico Madrid, Sevilla and the teams that want to take our place.

“We have to go up a level, we want to keep climbing and Sunday is a good test to see how we’ll respond.”


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Officially: UEFA signs 5 subs for all clubs in Europe

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Teams will be able to make five substitutions in UEFA competitions for the rest of the season, according to the organisation’s president Aleksander Ceferin.


The law amendment was proposed by world governing body FIFA to assist clubs in managing player workload in a congested calendar created by the coronavirus pandemic.

While it has not been adopted for the 2020-21 season by the Premier League, which has reverted to three substitutes, Ceferin said at a press conference that UEFA’s executive committee had approved it for club competitions such as the Champions League and the Europa League and in national team matches.

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Ceferin said: “After representations from clubs and national associations the executive committee approved the use of five substitutions in club and international matches for the rest of the season.”

The executive committee also approved triple-header international breaks in March and September next year, he said.

The international windows in October and November 2020 had already been extended by one day by FIFA, to allow for three matches to be played by each country instead of two.

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Ceferin also announced the 2021 UEFA Congress will take place in Switzerland in March next year, rather than the Belarusian capital Minsk.The city in the former Soviet republic has witnessed popular uprisings against president Alexander Lukashenko, who was controversially re-elected in August.

World players’ union FIFPRO welcomed the decision on allowing five substitutes.

The organisation’s general secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann said: “This is the right decision and a good first step to ease pressure on elite-level players.

“We will continue to push for further innovative ways to reduce their mounting workload and protect their health and performance.”


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Tears as Luis Suarez departs from Barca and Commends Messi

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Luis Suarez highlighted his close friendship with Lionel Messi as he bid a teary farewell to Barcelona ahead of his move to Atletico Madrid.

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Messi had failed to dovetail with other top strikers such as Samuel Eto’o, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and David Villa but took no time at all to gel with Suarez, who became his best friend at the club as well as a prolific strike partner.

“When I got to Barcelona everyone said be careful with Leo, that he was the main striker at the club,” an emotional Suarez said at a news conference attended by Messi, Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba.

“But in our time together we always tried to perform as well as we could and I can leave here feeling very proud.”

Messi also looked set to be leaving Barcelona before walking back on his threat to end his contract unilaterally, and Suarez lashed out at the stories that appeared in the media about the two players’ influence on the club.

“It has been a crazy month, many things have been said and leaked that were invented, many things that made me angry. But everyone knows how good a relationship I have with Leo,” the Uruguayan added.

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Amid all the upheaval at Barca this summer surrounding Messi’s future, it emerged that Suarez did not feature in the plans of head coach Ronald Koeman, who replaced Quique Setien in August.

Suarez had appeared set to join Italian champions Juventus, but a move to Turin collapsed after complications over the Uruguayan’s passport application.

Barcelona signed Suarez from Liverpool in July 2014 for £74m, shortly after he had been banned for four months by FIFA for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini during the World Cup in Brazil.

He soon formed a deadly partnership with Messi and Neymar, winning a treble of La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League in his first season.


Suarez leaves after lifting 13 trophies and hitting 198 goals to become the club’s third all-time top scorer.

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“I’m grateful to the club for trusting in me in 2014 after I made an error, it wasn’t easy to accept that and they treated me marvellously since I arrived,” said Suarez.

“I came here to fulfil a dream, to play for the best club in the world and I should be very proud of everything I did.

“I suffered a lot but I’ll remember the good times, the goals I scored alongside the best player of all time.”

Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu added: “He is a club legend, the third top scorer in our history, the best in his position.

“I want to highlight his character, his fighting spirit and his will to win which has helped us achieve so much in the last six years.”


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‘I couldn’t, I just couldn’t watch the best player in the world leave’ – Bartomeu on Messi

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Having refused to grant Lionel Messi’s wish to leave Barcelona last month, president Josep Maria Bartomeu is keen to move on.


Josep Maria Bartomeu insisted he had no interest in continuing a public spat with Lionel Messi despite the Barcelona captain’s criticism of his presidency.

Messi stunned the world last month when he informed Barça of his intention to depart the LaLiga giants, with the 33-year-old intending to trigger a clause in his contract to walk away on a free at the end of last season.

However, the validity of such a stipulation was murky due to the campaign being extended by the coronavirus pandemic, and Messi ultimately opted to remain in Catalonia rather than challenge Barcelona in a legal battle.

That did not prevent him from taking aim at Bartomeu in an interview with Goal, though, as he accused the president of reneging on his wish to leave and presiding over a club that had “no project or anything for a long time”.

“As president, I will not enter into any conflict with Messi,” Bartomeu told TV3. Messi is our captain, our leader. The issue is parked. What has been said has been said.

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“I couldn’t allow to let the best player in the world go. The team needs him, he guarantees success. Things have to be discussed at home. You have to support the team and the players.

“We have to congratulate ourselves that Messi is still with us. He is excited about [coach Ronald] Koeman’s project. The important thing is he plays for Barca, at his home. We want him to retire at the club.”

Messi’s contract expires at the end of the 2020-21 season anyway, though by that point Barcelona will have a different president as there are elections to replace Bartomeu next March.

However, Bartomeu, unpopular with some Barcelona fans due to his role in the Messi saga, may be forced out before then if he faces a vote of no confidence on the back of a motion to remove him, which has so far gathered more than 20,000 votes.

“Right now, no-one is considering resigning,” Bartomeu added. The club is not going to stop. I think everyone was surprised by the number of signatures but we respect democracy and the club’s laws.”


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Martin Braitwaite gets injury ahead of Villarreal’s clash

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Martin Braithwaite has picked up an injury in his left quadriceps rectus anterior ahead of Barcelona’s LaLiga Santander opener against Villarreal on September 27.


The Danish striker didn’t participate in the Blaugrana’s 1-0 victory over Elche in the Joan Gamper Trophy on Saturday.

“First team player Martin Braithwaite has a left quadriceps anterior rectus injury and the evolution of the problem will condition his availability,” read the club’s oficial statement.

“The tests carried out this Sunday have shown up the injury, which occurred in post-match training on Saturday.”


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Bye Bartomeu! As Vote of No confidence motion reaches necessary signature

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The motion of censure against Bartomeu and his board have reached the necessary signatures.


The promoters of the vote of no confidence against Josep Maria Bartomeu and the second board of directors have the signatures to advance to the next stage. They have planned to arrive at the 18,000 signatures by the end of the day.


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Suarez rules out Juve move

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Luis Suarez has reportedly ruled out signing for Juventus in the current transfer window, despite having previously reached an agreement with the Old Lady.


The main reason is the bureaucratic delay in obtaining Italian citizenship, a process that was set to start on Thursday with an exam.

According to RAC1, the deadlines to get an Italian passport in order to avoiding occupying a non-EU spot could go on further than October 6.

Thus, Suarez would not be able to play in the Champions League group stage as the team’s list of registered players should be presented that day.

His intention has been to leave the Blaugrana ever since Ronald Koeman informed him that he is not counting on the Uruguay international for next season.

Suarez has offers from other clubs, but there is a dispute between him and his current employers on the logistics of his departure as he wants to collect his wages and the club are hoping for a transfer fee – even if it is a small and symbolic one.

It remains to be seen whether Koeman will give him any playing time in the friendly against Girona on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Barcelona’s technical secretary Ramon Planes avoided making any significant comments on Suarez’s future during the official presentation of Miralem Pjanic.

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“Suarez is, and has been in recent years, an important player,” the director noted.

“As I said in another appearance, we have to have a lot of respect for the players who have given so much to Barcelona.

“It is evident after what happened at the end of the season that we are in a process of changing, with a new coach and new ideas and we are working on that.

“We have to respect the players and their contracts.

“The market ends on October 5 and until then many things can happen.

“But with the utmost respect towards the players and the club.”


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Leo Messi makes his first appearance since dramatic transfer U-turn

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Lionel Messi has made his return for Barcelona for the first time since his dramatic transfer U-turn after starting the Catalan club’s pre-season friendly against Gimnastic de Tarragona.


The brilliant Argentine only returned to pre-season training on Monday this week after his very public fall-out with the club but Ronald Koeman asked Messi to play as the coach looks to dampen the furore that has surrounded their talisman.

Barcelona went into meltdown when Messi announced he had made up his mind to leave following a hugely disappointing end to last season.


He told Barca that he wanted to exercise a clause in his contract which allowed him to leave for free only for the club to insist it had lapsed at the end of what would have been the regular season pre-Covid. He was told his buy out clause or legal action was the only way to leave the club he had grown up with and, reluctant to sue them, relented, though not before taking a swipe at president Josep Bartomeu saying he had broken promises.

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‘The president always said that at the end of the season I could decide if I wanted to go or if I wanted to stay and in the end he didn’t end up keeping his word,’ Messi said.

‘And this is the reason why I am going to continue in the club… because the president told me that the only way to leave was to pay the 700-million-euro release clause.


‘This is impossible, and then the other way was to go to trial. I would never go to court against Barca because it is the club that I love, that gave me everything since I arrived, it is the club of my life, I have made my life here.’

More than 7,500 Barcelona members have since signed a censure motion aiming to oust Bartomeu in a vote of no confidence following the saga.

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Messi, however, returned last week and assured fans: ‘My attitude won’t change because I wanted to leave. I will give my all.’


As if to underline his commitment, he arrived an and a half before his first session on Monday, was the first to arrive On Tuesday and Wednesday and on Thursday, the team’s day off, went in to train again.

Now he has pulled on a Barca shirt again tonight at the Johan Cruyff Stadium.

Koeman, for his part, had prepared for Messi’s departure but will now seek to integrate him into a new-look side.

He has been tasked with overhauling an ageing squad that will see the likes of Luis Suarez moved on. He wants Lyon’s Memphis Depay and Liverpool’s Gini Wijnaldum to join him but Barcelona are struggling financially, especially as they face the prospect of paying up several contracts.


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Barca starts Koeman era with ‘VICTORY”

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Barcelona won 3-1 in their first pre-season match of the summer, defeating Nastic de Tarragona at the Estadi Johan Cruyff.

This was the first look at how Ronald Koeman would set his side up and he played two completely different teams, one line-up for the first half and another for the second.

Lionel Messi started in the match, fitting in to a 4-2-3-1 system that saw Sergio Busquets and Carles Alena team up in the defensive midfield positions.

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Ousmane Dembele was in the starting line-up too, returning after his long-term hamstring injury, and he scored just five minutes in as he was able to prod the ball through the goalkeeper’s legs.

Antoine Griezmann wasn’t as involved, but he did make it 2-0 by converting a penalty in the 17th minute.

After Javi Bonilla pulled one back for Nastic on the half hour mark, Barcelona restored their two-goal advantage when the alternate line-up took to the field in the second half.

Six minutes after the restart, there was another penalty and this time Philippe Coutinho scored.

Coutinho was good in that second half, while Trincao stood out for positive reasons too and Martin Braithwaite stood out for missing three chances.


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See the only two Barcelona youngstars Koeman adores

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Ronald Koeman was full of praise for Barcelona new boys Pedri and Trincao after they both played their first minutes for the club on Saturday.


The pair appeared in a 3-1 friendly win over Nastic de Tarragona, which brought some joy to the Dutchman.

“He’s a great talent,” Koeman said when asked about Pedri’s contribution.

“He’s 17 and such an important signing for our future.

“He has trained with us and has the quality to play, so we’ll see how much he can take part.

“I liked Trincao positionally, sometimes coming inside and sometimes going outside.

“He has quality and has to adapt to the speed and rhythm.

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“He’s a great signing.”

As is the norm early in pre-season, the Catalans have prioritised physical work so far.

Yet Koeman knows that they need to brush up on their tactics.

“We’ve done a lot of physical work in training,” he explained.

“We have to do more tactical work now.”

Lionel Messi got 45 minutes under his belt for the first time since his transfer saga.

“He’s shown the same spirit as in the first day,” the boss added.

“He’s training well and did the same on our day off.

“He knows that he has to improve physically, like everyone, but his quality speaks for itself.”


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‘It a new Born Barcelona now and I’m happy – Ronald Koeman

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The new Dutch head coach admitted the 4-2-3-1 formation played on Saturday night is slightly more defensive, but insists “this team can do it”. “We’re happy,” Koeman said after the 3-1 win over Nàstic.


New Barcelona boss, Ronald Koeman, spoke on Barça TV after his first game in charge of the Catalan club. Barça defeated Nàstic 3-1 in a friendly held before they open their La Liga campaign.

“The most important thing is that fortunately there have been no injuries. Everyone has played 45 minutes. There were moments of good intensity. There are always things to improve on but we’re happy. We have been here for two weeks and we have two more to go.”

New system
Regarding the system and positioning, with the double pivot, Koeman said: “It may be different and somewhat more defensive than what has been seen in recent years, but the objective is to move the ball, hold on to it and find the spaces to play between the lines, and behind rival midfielders. I think this team can do it because we have midfielders to play like that.”

Short pre-season
Koeman assured that he was interested in seeing players even though they had only been training for a few days: “It is important that they already play because it is not a normal pre-season. We only have four weeks, not six. It is complicated. What we want to do now is physical work and in the next two weeks work on the tactical side more.”


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Shocking: Messi deliberately hands over penalty to Griezmann, Friendship Begins?

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In the 17th minute of Barcelona’s pre-season friendly match against Nastic, the Blaugrana won a penalty and it was scored by Antoine Griezmann to make it 2-0 at the time.

While most might have expected Lionel Messi to take the spot kick, the Argentine gave the ball to the Frenchman.

Griezmann scored to make it two French goals, after Ousmane Dembele had netted the opener.


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