Barcelona boss says the club have moved on from Neymar speculation

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde has said that he does not want to comment on the Neymar transfer saga any further and it is time to turn the page. The Brazil international was heavily tipped to rejoin the Blaugrana from Paris Saint-Germain this summer but a deal did not materialise with Les Parisiens demanding as much as £270m for the attacker. Neymar has since made his comeback with Les Parisiens and Valverde believes the media should move on from the speculation, he told in a press conference: “We’ve spoken about Neymar before, during and after the market and it’s time to turn the page.”

Neymar recently made his comeback for Les Parisiens during the league game against Strasbourg and he received a frosty reception from the home fans, who booed him throughout the encounter. Nonetheless, he was able to silence some of them with a stunning overhead kick to score an injury-time winner and he has since said that he is committed to the cause of the club.

Barcelona, on the other hand, have experienced a mixed beginning to the current campaign and they have accumulated just seven points from the opening four matches. That tally sees them three points behind league leaders Sevilla, who have been splendid at the back with just one goal conceded to date.

Continue reading

Frank Lampard says Lionel Messi is the most incredible player he has ever faced

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has said that Lionel Messi is the most incredible player he had faced during his playing career. The 41-year-old suffered an embarrassing 4-0 league defeat to Manchester United during his managerial debut with the Blues last weekend but he is hoping to redeem himself in the forthcoming European Super Cup clash with Liverpool.

Speaking ahead of that game, Lampard was asked about the best player he had faced during his playing career and he happened to mention three players including Messi, who is reckoned as the best of the rest, he said: “Can I give you two answers? It’ll actually be three. The first one is Messi because he was the most incredible player – it was like you were playing against someone who’s not on the same level as all of us. The two players I always remember having the hardest time against were Xavi and [Andres] Iniesta at Barcelona. They just played football around you, and you didn’t get near them. It was football that wasn’t normal to me; it was different from anything else I came up against.”

Continue reading

Patrice Evra says he has no issues with Barcelona star Luis Suarez

Former Manchester United star Patrice Evra has said that he has no concerns with Luis Suarez despite the latter’s racist remarks when they played against each other in the Premier League. The Uruguay international spent three seasons with Liverpool between 2011 and 2014 where he became a fan favourite before making the switch to Barcelona.

Speaking to The Mail, Evra insisted that he has no hatred towards the former Liverpool marksman for the incident which happened eight years ago. He added that the Uruguayan was one of the best Premier League players at that time and he has personally acknowledged the same when picking his best XI on multiple occasions.

He said: “I don’t hate him. I never hated him. I wanted to punch him at the time but for me to hate someone is impossible. I don’t have hate in my heart. I can react but hate is a strong word for me. When I was asked to pick a team of my best players, I named Suarez as one of my XI. He was the best striker at that time. Why should I not recognise his talent even if he isn’t a good person? I don’t even know if he is a good person. We had one episode. At that time, I wouldn’t have gone on holiday with him but I can’t hate him.”

Suarez was banned for eight matches following the incident but he came back with a determined mindset and nearly guided the Reds to the Premier League title during the 2013/14 season. Following that campaign, he was banned for four months after the biting incident on Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini during the 2014 World Cup but he has since put a control to his emotions to become a fantastic servant for Barcelona.

Suarez has amassed 177 goals from just 247 appearances for the Catalan giants. He has won four La Liga crowns, four Copa del Rey and the prestigious Champions League over the past five seasons. He has two more years remaining on his current contract with the club.

Frank Lampard says Lionel Messi is the most incredible player he has ever faced

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has said that Lionel Messi is the most incredible player he had faced during his playing career. The 41-year-old suffered an embarrassing 4-0 league defeat to Manchester United during his managerial debut with the Blues last weekend but he is hoping to redeem himself in the forthcoming European Super Cup clash with Liverpool.

Speaking ahead of that game, Lampard was asked about the best player he had faced during his playing career and he happened to mention three players including Messi, who is reckoned as the best of the rest, he said: “Can I give you two answers? It’ll actually be three. The first one is Messi because he was the most incredible player – it was like you were playing against someone who’s not on the same level as all of us. The two players I always remember having the hardest time against were Xavi and [Andres] Iniesta at Barcelona. They just played football around you, and you didn’t get near them. It was football that wasn’t normal to me; it was different from anything else I came up against.”

Continue reading

Xavi believes Barcelona would find it ‘very difficult’ to re-sign Neymar

Barcelona legend Xavi Hernandez has said that the Blaugrana would find it very difficult to reacquire the services of Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain. The Brazil international made the switch to the French champions from the Camp Nou two years ago but reports have indicated that he would prefer to make a comeback ahead of next season.

Speaking to Movistar, Xavi said that Neymar remains one of the best players in the world and it would be an incredible signing for the Spanish champions. However, he added that the deal won’t come easy with Les Parisiens likely to demand in upwards of £200m for the former Santos graduate, he told: “He would be an incredible signing. But I see it as being difficult, honestly. I think it’s very difficult. We have seen so many things that I thought I’d never see though, such as PSG paying €222million, so we’ll have to wait. There’s no doubt that he’s one of the best players in the world, but let’s see what Barcelona do.”

Barcelona are currently not in a position to sanction a world-record fee for the attacker, considering they are set to pursue Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid for around £108m. As such, reports have suggested that they may discuss an exchange deal whereby there is no money involved for the transfer agreement.

The Blaugrana have made no mention regarding the same but reports suggest that Samuel Umtiti, Ivan Rakitic and Ousmane Dembele could be offered as makeweights to land the services of the Brazilian attacker. Barcelona have been a dominant force through La Liga over the years and last season saw them win the title with a comfortable 11-point gap.

They, however,have not been able to replicate the same at the European scale and have not won the Champions League since the 2014/15 season. That period saw the prime of Neymar, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez on the playing field and the supporters could witness a reunion of the attacking trident this summer.

John Aldridge urges Jurgen Klopp to ignore Philippe Coutinho

Former Liverpool striker John Aldridge has urged Reds boss Jurgen Klopp to opt against the signing of Philippe Coutinho his summer. The Brazil international forced through a move to the Blaugrana from Anfield 18 months ago but he has since struggled to make a huge impression with the Spanish champions.

As such, he has been linked with a potential return to the Merseyside outfit this summer but Aldridge feels the move may not be worthy, considering it could blow most of the club’s transfer budget. He added that the Reds should instead look into a move for Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha, who has openly revealed the ambition of playing in the Champions League, he said: “Coutinho left on a sour note as he forced his way out of the club and while he is a great player, I don’t think Liverpool should blow their transfer budget on bringing him back. Wilfried Zaha is the one I think he [Klopp] should go for.”

At the moment, the Reds have a fixed set of players to make the starting XI and any new signing may have to adjust with a bench role at the beginning. As such, they may find it difficult to lure some of the best players around and the focus may rather lie on bolstering the squad with younger recruits, who can develop into top prospects for the future.

Meanwhile, Coutinho has recently hinted that he could consider a move away from the Blaugrana after a difficult league season where he managed to score just five goals. The Brazilian has been associated with a move to Paris Saint-Germain of late and reports suggest that could be a possibility, should the Blaugrana seek to re-sign Neymar in a potential swap agreement. Coutinho has four more years remaining on his current Barcelona contract.

Ernesto Valverde expects more from Barcelona team after Eibar draw

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has said that he expects more from the team after they could only muster a 2-2 draw against Eibar during the final matchday of the season. The Catalan giants field a strong lineup for the game despite wrapping up the title and they could not seal the three points despite Lionel Messi starring with another brace.

 

Speaking after the game, Valverde said that every game presents with a different challenge and Eibar had the impetus against them, given they had nothing to lose. He added that his team need to be much better for the Copa del Rey final against Valencia next weekend, considering they struggled against Eibar in the second period and could have paid the price.
Continue reading

Alonso speaks on Liverpool’s Champions League challenge against Barcelona

Former Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso believes the Reds have the quality to tackle Barcelona at the semi-final stage of the Champions League. The Merseyside giants reached their second Champions League semi-final on the bounce after beating Porto by a convincing 6-1 aggregate scoreline and they are now set to face their toughest challenge yet.

Speaking to the club’s official website, Alonso said that the Reds have the recent experience of reaching the current stage of the competition and this should give them a boost ahead of their challenge against the Spanish champions, he said: “Yes, they can, because they reached the final last year so now they know how it feels to be there. But we will see. It’s going to be a great, great semi-final to watch and [I’m] really looking forward to it.”
Continue reading

Arsenal manager hails Barcelona defender ahead of the summer transfer window

Arsenal manager Unai Emery has praised the qualities of Samuel Umtiti amid suggestions that the Gunners are interested in the Barcelona defender. The France international has endured a tough season with the Blaugrana where he has struggled to regularly make the starting lineup due to form and injury concerns, and this has invited speculation regarding his future.

Speaking to RMC Sport, Emery was asked about the progress of Umtiti at the Camp Nou, where he highlighted that the Frenchman is a very good player, he said: “He’s a very good player [Samuel Umtiti]. France has a lot of very good footballers who are playing abroad. The French league is a very attractive market for a lot of teams. I’ve always had French players in my teams. At Valencia, Sevilla, PSG and here at Arsenal. I’ve always been able to count on those players.”
Continue reading

Carles Puyol names Barcelona star as the best central defender in the world

Barcelona legend Carles Puyol has said that Gerard Pique remains the best central defender in the world despite the progress of Virgil van Dijk at Liverpool this term. Van Dijk has been building a reputation for himself at the Reds by helping them challenge for a maiden Premier League crown, but this has not changed the opinion of Puyol.

Speaking to Mundo Deportivo, Puyol heaped praise on Pique and stated that his compatriot remains the best centre-back in the world, he said: “Gerard Pique, without a doubt. Yes, he’s the best central defender in the world. We’re different. He is key to Barcelona in everything he contributes, in his leadership. He’s a phenomenon and a great friend.”
Continue reading