MASCH CLOSE TO NEW DEAL

Barcelona midfielder Javier Mascherano has said that he is close to agreeing a new deal with the club. The Argentine midfielder was one of the last signings made by the former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola.  Even though he was initially a midfielder, Guardiola managed to successfully convert him into a central defender. The former Liverpool man has now revealed that he is close to extending his current contract with the club after sufficiently impressing the officials of the club during his short time at the Camp Nou.

The midfielder was a £ 25 million signing from Liverpool a few season ago. He has managed to lift some of the greatest cup competitions in the world including the Champions League in his inaugural season with the Spanish club. However, he was converted into a defender by the manager Guardiola this season. Although, it was a move that was not successful as in previous seasons, the 28-year-old has said that he is extremely comfortable playing as a central defender. It is thought that he will signing a new four year deal with the club. His wages are expected to improve in accordance with his importance to the team, which has risen in the last few months.

“My contract renewal is almost done. Perhaps there will be more news this week, or the next. I’m very calm about the whole thing,” said the midfielder at a recent press conference. Mascherano is close to making 100 appearances for the Catalan club, who have been judged as the best in the world right now. They have lifted an unprecedented 16 trophies in the last four years under their former manager, who was recently replaced by his assistant Tito. Mascherano has said that he expects Barcelona to be successful under the new man as well.

VILLANOVA WANTS DEFENDERS

Barcelona’s new manager Tito Villanova has said that he will be looking to bring his a few defensive players in the summer transfer window. It is the start of a new era at the Camp Nou after assistant manager Tito Villanova will be taking over from manager Guardiola, who has stepped down from his post due to fatigue. It is going to be extremely difficult for anyone who is replacing Guardiola to repeat his achievements with the Spanish club. The former Barcelona captain guided the club to a quite impressive 14 trophies in just four seasons. Tito Villanova has agreed a new two-year deal with the club recently.

Immediately after taking over at the club, the 42-year-old has confirmed that he will be not looking at enhancing the attacking options at the club, but will be focusing more on the defensive side. Barcelona have been left extremely vulnerable in the defence this season due to the lack of Carlos Puyol for most of the matches, while Pique has also not been at his best. As a result, midfielder Mascherano has been used as the centre back in numerous matches by Guardiola. Tito Villanova also acknowledged that he will not be looking to change the system too much.

“We want to reinforce the squad at the back. It’s a position we have had problems with. At the moment, we are interested in a left back and a centreback. We don’t have any plans to bring in any one up front. Last year David Villa, Alexis Sanchez and Pedro all suffered injuries but we hope next year they’ll be ok. Also we can count on (youth academy players) Isaac Cuenca and Cristian Tello. Pep and I were very close. Pep was the communicator of the message, but he shared the decision-making with me 50-50 and sought my opinion. Most of the time we were in complete agreement,” said the new Barcelona manager.

BUSQUETS: WIN THE GOALS AWARD

Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets has said that the club should be doing everything possible in the hands to help Lionel Messi win the Pichichi award, which is given to the top scorer in Spain, this season. Barcelona will now not win the la Liga title nor the Champions League. Barcelona currently trail leaders Real Madrid by seven points in the la Liga, while they were knocked out of the Champions League by Chelsea. However, they are still having the capability to win the Copa del Ray title this season, while Lionel Messi can also win the personal accolade of having the Pichichi award.

Sergio Busquets has said that all the Barcelona players should be focusing on helping Lionel Messi win this title. Sergio Busquets said this statement after the 7-0 thrashing of Rayo Vallecano in Madrid. The huge score also helped Lionel Messi, as the Argentine not only helped himself to 2 goals, but also created four others as well. This has removed any doubts people have had in the player, who missed a penalty that ultimately proved costly for Barcelona in the match against Chelsea. Barcelona will next be taking on Malaga at home on Wednesday.

“The most important thing is the team, but we have to do everything we can so that Leo finishes the season as top goalscorer. He’s broken all the records; he’s the best in the world,” Sergio Busquets said after the match against Rayo Vallecano. There was a real possibility that Real Madrid could have won the title this weekend itself had Barcelona lost against Rayo Vallecano. However, the huge 7-0 win meant that they were able to capitalise on the freedom of having to play without any pressure. Guardiola recently revealed that he will step down as the Barcelona manager following the end of this season.

BARCA CHASING LUIZ

Chelsea defender David Luiz is on course to becoming a Barcelona player after it has emerged that the Catalan club are looking at the possibility of signing the Portuguese defender in the summer for around £ 35 million. David Luiz has been one of the great characters in English football after his arrival from Portuguese club Benfica in the January transfer window last season. He was signed for £ 21 million by Chelsea, but it is thought that Barcelona are willing to pay up to £ 35 million for the defender. Barcelona manager Guardiola has been extremely innovative in his ways to make Barcelona one of the strongest team in the world.

Barcelona have a unique style of playing in the way that they attack from the back. The defence of Barcelona does not rely on its strength to head the ball, but to play the ball from the back. David Luiz is the kind of player who will be exactly suitable for the way Barcelona play. Even though David Luiz has been ridiculed in English football for the way he defends, he could be playing for one of the best teams in the world next season provided they agree a fee with Chelsea for his services. It will be interesting to see if Chelsea will be willing to let go of a player they worked a lot to sign last season.

It is thought that David Luiz is going to be the signing who will eventually replace Carlos Puyol at the back for Barcelona. The 34-year-old defender is coming to the end of his career. He has been injured for most of the season, which has made Barcelona use defensive midfielder Mascherano in his position. The signing of David Luiz will be extremely crucial in this regard for Barcelona.

GUARDIOLA SPECULATION

The future of Barcelona manager Guardiola has come under intense speculation of late. Guardiola’s current contract runs out at the end of the season and he is yet to sign a new contract. This has led to speculation that Pep Guardiola’s time at the Camp Nou has finally come to an end. However, the man who appointed Guardiola in the first place – Former Barcelona president Laporta – has said that the club should allow the two-time Champions League winning manager more time in order to decide on his future. There have been reports that Guardiola is looking for a new challenge after achieving almost everything with Barcelona in the last three years.

Guardiola took over at Barcelona in a difficult time during the history of the club. They were just coming out from the management of Frank Rijkaard, with many players like Ronaldinho at the decline. Real Madrid were top of the Spanish league once again, and Guardiola was handed the difficulties of managing players like Lionel Messi and Xavi. He has more than achieved everything with the club in the three years, which has included three consecutive league titles and two Champions League medals. Guardiola is thought to have made England his top priority when it comes to the next job.

“He’s giving it all as a coach and he will a thoughtful and reasoned decision – and it shall be respected by the club. He always said he would renew every year and he has every right to take time to think before making an important decision. I understand this period of reflection. Guardiola is sufficiently mature and intelligent [to do this],” Laporta told reporters on Tuesday. Whatever happens, Laporta has said that Guardiola will forever be remembered as one of the greatest managers for Barcelona.

MANCINI RUES INJURIES

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has claimed that only Barcelona have the desired squad strength in order to deal with the problems Manchester City have with the number of absentees. Manchester city have not only lost a number of players to the African cup of nations, but they have also lost players due to injuries.

To add further trouble to Roberto Mancini, players like David Silva and Adam Johnson have been extremely out of form in the last few weeks. This has meant that Manchester City have suffered their fifth poor result in the last six matches against Liverpool in the Carling cup semi-final.

This was also the second consecutive home defeat after the 3-2 defeat by Manchester United in the third round of the FA Cup. Now, Roberto Mancini has come out with the excuse saying that Barcelona only can deal with the amount of problems he has been having with his squad over the last few weeks. This will come as a major excuse from the manager, who has spent almost £ 200 million on the first team alone. To add further surprise to his statement, Manchester City also have a reserve squad that is valued at over £ 400 million.

Despite possessing a number of players, Mancini has been complaining throughout the campaign. “Maybe Barcelona could. Manchester City no. In four or five years, Manchester City probably yes. But not now. When I said one month ago that December and January would be the crucial months it was because I know football,” Roberto Mancini said ahead of the match with Wigan athletic. This is quite to be a crucial match for Manchester city given that Manchester United have just drawn level on points with them. Vincent Kompany is going to be unavailable for this match due to his suspension.

Focus on Dani Alves

Dani Alves is a professional footballer from the South American country of Brazil, famous for producing extremely talented and gifted footballers, who currently plays for the giants of Spanish football as well as one of the greatest club teams ever to grace the football field, Football Club Barcelona.

He has made his position in the right defensive wing as one of the most attacking positions in world football, his marauding runs have been the bane of many a club side including the likes of Manchester United, one of the most well oiled units in world football, who Barcelona beat twice in the Champions League finals in three years, primarily due to the rampaging runs of Alves along the right wing that unsettled the shape of the United back four.

Before he joined the all conquering Barcelona in 2008, Dani Alves was part of the Sevilla side that won back to back UEFA Cups under the management of Juande Ramos as well as the Spanish King’s Cup or the Copa Del Rey. Seeing his performances for Sevilla as well as his outstanding displays for the Brazilian national team, Barcelona paid Sevilla a staggering sum of € 32.5 million, which is till date, the most amount of money ever paid for a defender, to secure his services in 2008.

In his very first season at the famous Nou Camp of Barcelona, Alves won the Spanish League, the Spanish King’s Cup and the UEFA Champions League final defeating Manchester United at Rome to win the first ever treble in his career and he further went on to win the Spanish and European Super Cups as well as the Club World Cup to cap off an amazing season for Barcelona as well as himself when he won all the six trophies in which the team participated in. Born on the 6th of May, 1983 in the Juazeiro region of Brazil as Daniel Alves da Silva, his skills as a footballer caught the eye of everyone when he was very young and the young Dani Alves was invited to a trial for his local club EC Bahia and he quite easily made the cut at the academy. He played for two seasons with Bahia before Sevilla came calling and Alves moved to Europe. His six years at Sevilla were some of the best moments in his life when a Sevilla team full of potential managed to overcome all the odds to become a major force in Spanish football.

The day he announced that he was leaving Sevilla to join Barcelona, Dani Alves was moved to tears and in that very same press conference, he proclaimed that he would love to come back to the city and play for Sevilla once again. Although it took him sometime to settle in at Barcelona and adapt to their style of play, Alves quickly became one of the mainstays of the side under Pep Guardiola and since then, he has been rated as one of the best right backs of all time, alongside Carlos Alberto Torres and Gary Neville. Still only 28 years old, Dani Alves has time on his side that will help him to become one of the legends of the game, let alone in his position only and it is all in his hands whether he will be considered as a legend or the one with the potential that didn’t quite make it.