Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has branded Lionel Messi as a ‘genius’ after the Argentine starred during the club’s 3-0 win over Alaves in the season opener. Messi had a rather frustrating World Cup with Argentina over the summer but he managed to shed the disappointment with a brace to kick-start the league campaign.
Speaking after the game, Valverde was full of praise for the attacker, who scored Barcelona’s 6000th La Liga goal with a lovely free-kick which was intentionally placed underneath the opposition wall, he said: “Messi is a genius. We’re lucky to be able to see him every day. We’re lucky to be involved in football during the era in which he is playing — we want him to pull a rabbit from the hat every day. There’s still room for Messi to surprise us. He always surprises you — he never ceases to amaze me, honestly. You have to be ready to expect anything from Messi because he sees what no one else sees.”
Colombian legend Carlos Valderrama has warned Yerry Mina from making the move to the Premier League with Everton. The Barcelona centre-back has been widely tipped to pursue a fresh challenge during the ongoing transfer window with Marco Silva’s side deemed as favourites to sign the former Palmeiras man.
Speaking to Radio Caracol, Valderrama has raised concerns over the potential move and believes Mina would better off joining Galatasaray than Everton with the promise of Champions League football, he said: “The Premier League is attractive but for me the Champions League is the most prestigious. I don’t think Yerry should join a mid-table team like Everton. Fatih Terim has a great record of developing players. If it were me, I would pick Galatasaray.”
Barcelona’s new summer signing Arthur has revealed that he is delighted to be compared with club legends Xavi and Andres Iniesta. The Brazilian became the Blaugrana’s first signing of the summer transfer window after arriving from Gremio and he has penned a six-year contract with the reigning Spanish champions.
Speaking in a news conference, Arthur said: “
I am really happy that they say I have Barca DNA. To come here is fantastic for me, it has always been my dream. I know there will be tough moments but I will try to learn from those moments.Being compared with Xavi and Iniesta is fantastic. I don’t hide my passion for them. I will always admire them. I couldn’t say which one I have more in common with, though.”
Argentina legend Javier Zanetti believes Lionel Messi is under more pressure to deliver for the national side after witnessing them lose in the finals of the previous three major tournaments. The Barcelona star has won everything within reach at club level but he has yet to taste any form of glory with the Albiceleste.
Speaking to Mediaset, Zanetti admitted that Messi will once more be the focus of Argentina’s World Cup campaign and feels the burden will only increase on him, should the nation reach the final stages of the tournament, he said: “There is a lot of pressure on him, but not only in this competition but also in the past. Everyone expects it to be his World Cup and that Argentina can win, but it will be difficult because I see other more equipped national teams. The defeats in the two Copa America and World Cup finals further increases pressures on him and the team from the press. We expect a lot. It [the World Cup] stops all the country, there is great enthusiasm and passion for this national team and we hope to get to the end of the competition.”
Barcelona director Javier Bordas believes Neymar is not entirely happy with his stay with Paris Saint-Germain but he would not fancy the prospect of watching the attacker in the colours of Real Madrid. The 26-year-old made the world-record switch from Camp Nou to Parc des Princes last summer but this has not ceased the speculation over his future.
Speaking to reporters, Bordas suggested that Neymar may have not settled following his record move to the French capital, but he would still not want him to join arch-rivals Real Madrid in the near future. He said: “Neymar can sign for anyone. For me, personally, I’m not dreaming of Neymar signing for Real Madrid. It seems as if he’s not happy in Paris, we figured as much. In Barcelona he was doing well and Neymar regrets having left [for PSG]. I saw the Europa League final.”
Barcelona goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen has hinted that he could pursue a fresh challenge away from Camp Nou at the end of the season. The Netherlands international joined the Catalan giants from Ajax during the summer of 2016 and he has since played second fiddle to Marc-Andre terStegen, with just 20 appearances across all competitions.
Speaking with Dutch outlet Ziggo, Cillessen confirmed that he could be tempted to consider his future amid his reduced gametime at Barcelona, he said: “I love this club, but I am a professional and I want to play more than ten games in a season. The management already knows that I want to play more but I also read that they do not want me to leave and that they are happy with my work. I am not the type of player who goes to war with the clubs, I have been here for two years, and, for the moment, I will continue.” Continue reading
Stoke City midfielder Charlie Adam does not believe Mohamed Salah would get a game, should he join one of Barcelona or Real Madrid in the future. The Egypt international has been in sensational form for Liverpool this season with 37 goals across all competitions, and he recently equalled a record shared by Cristiano Ronaldo and Robin van Persie.
During the Reds’ 2-1 win over Crystal Palace, Salah managed to score his 29th goal of the Premier League campaign, and as a result, he became only the third player to score 21 top-flight matches. Despite this, former Reds midfielder Adam does not believe he would enjoy a similar run with two of Spain’s heavyweights, he told TalkSPORT: “Where’s he going to go? It’s difficult for him, where does he go? Will he get a game at Real Madrid? Will he get a game at Barcelona? I don’t think he would. I think he will stay there.”
Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa does not believe Antoine Griezmann will leave the club during the summer transfer window. Costa is said to have been lured back to Atleti owing to Griezmann’s attempts, and the 29-year-old believes it would be unfair, if the Frenchman left after convincing him to rejoin his former employers.
Speaking in a press conference, Costa said: “He knows that we want him, that he is a very important player. He is still with us and he has not told me he is going yet. I would be happy for him to stay, everyone has to look for the best for themselves but, in my opinion, the best for him is to stay. He called me every day to tell me to return to Atletico and now he’s not going to leave me. That cannot be, he is going to stay.”
Liverpool legend-turned-pundit Steven Gerrard spoke about the influence Sergio Busquets has at the heart of the Barcelona midfield. The likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez have earned praise for their goalscoring exploits over the years, but Gerrard believes Busquets is equally influential in the Catalan ranks.
Speaking on BT Sport, Gerrard admitted that it was frustrating to find himself playing against Busquets with the Spaniard capable of maintain a tireless workrate over the course of 90 minutes, he said: “Having played against him, in the end you stop pressing him because it’s just so frustrating.
Louis van Gaal has continued his war of words with former club Manchester United after urged compatriot Daley Blind to pursue a move to Barcelona. The Netherlands international has been on the periphery of the United first-team this term, and Van Gaal feels the versatile defender is better off joining the Spanish La Liga.
Van Gaal watched Barcelona outsmart Real Madrid by a 3-0 scoreline in the El Clasico, and shortly after the game, he stressed that Blind should move on from Old Trafford, where he has not started a Premier League match since August. He said: “Daley Blind is better off going to Barcelona, than staying with Man United. He is not even on the bench for United sometimes. Daley can play in more than one position and at Barcelona he would never be sat in the stand.”