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.”
Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has claimed that there was a possibility of his team trying to sign Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann in the coming transfer windows. The French superstar had been linked heavily with a move to Manchester United during the summer, but this did not materialise due to Atletico’s transfer ban. Since a departure for Griezmann in the summer would have left the club seriously short of options up front, they decided to persuade the Frenchman to stay at the club. However, Griezmann does not seem to be entirely happy at Atletico with the forward coming in with some poor performances.
Manchester United brought in Romelu Lukaku once they found out that they would not be able to bring in Griezmann in the summer. As a result, it is highly unlikely that the Red Devils will be in the market for the striker come the January transfer window or the summer. In this scenario, Barcelona are looking to take advantage of the situation by making an offer for the player. After having had a spectacular start to his life at Barcelona, manager Ernesto Valverde claims that Griezmann is a player who would fit in well at the Camp Nou. There have been previous transfers between Atletico and Barcelona with the recent high profile switch being Arda Turan.
Spain international Jordi Alba has said that he is enjoying himself at Barcelona following Neymar’s decision to join Paris Saint-Germain in the summer. The Brazil international made a shock choice to join the French giants in August after triggered the £198m release clause in his contract.
Initial suggestions were Barcelona would struggle in the absence of their key attack, but they have come out in flying colours in this season’s La Liga with Alba being one of their influential players. Alba is currently joint top of the assist charts with four alongside skipper Lionel Messi, and he appears to be enjoying life under new coach Ernesto Valverde.
Barcelona defender Thomas Vermaelen has confirmed that there were a string of clubs interested in his signature during the summer transfer window.
However, the Catalan giants blocked his exit as they did not have sufficient backup in the central defensive department.
Speaking to La DerniereHeure, the Belgium international explained his intention to leave: “The club told me I couldn’t leave, I had to stay despite the future of various clubs. Now I am not playing, so I am in a difficult situation. I can’t play with Barca B, where I could get some form because the Spanish legislation doesn’t allow it. It’s a regrettable situation. “Of course I would like to play more [club] football to be in a good rhythm with the national team. Vincent’s (Kompany) not here and so I have a bigger chance of playing.”
Vermaelen spent the entirety of the previous campaign on loan with Roma, where he started quickly off the blocks. However, a reckless red card in a Champions League game against FC Porto did him no favours, and he quickly dropped down the pecking order. Continue reading