Barcelona agree Rafinha deal with Inter – reports

January has been a busy old month for Barcelona in the transfer window and it looks as though the club are set to wave goodbye to another player.

According to various reports a deal to take Rafinha from Barcelona to Inter Milan is pretty much a done deal with the Brazilian moving on an initial loan.

According to Sport, the deal also includes a compulsory purchase option should Inter qualify for the Champions League. If they do then they will have to buy Rafinha for €35 million (and potentially rising to €35m).

It’s a similar story at Marca, who add that he will sign a three and a half year deal at Inter, if the move becomes permanent.

AS say that if the deal does happen “he will be the most expensive La Masia product to leave Barcelona.” They also report he will head to Milan for a medical and will take in Inter’s game with Roma on Sunday.

Rafinha’s had an awful time with injuries, so it’s understandable Inter are wary of buying him outright.

However, if they do €35m is a pretty decent price, although it’s a shame to see him go. Hopefully, though he can get his career back in track and stay injury-free.

FOX Sports: Philippe Coutinho Will Wear #14 Because Barcelona are Saving #7 for Antoine Griezmann

Another mega signing could be in the cards

Philippe Coutinho will wear #14 at FC Barcelona because the #7 shirt is being saved for another star. That star? Antoine Griezmann.

…At least, so claims FOX Sports.

The #14 shirt belongs to Javier Mascherano, but he’s understood to be leaving soon, which would allow Coutinho to wear the number.

Arda Turan’s departure has opened up the #7 shirt, but the report claims this will not be given to Coutinho because Barça want to save it for another star – Griezmann.

Griezmann has been heavily linked with a move from Atlético Madrid to the Camp Nou. The biggest question is where he would play in Ernesto Valverde’s set up.

Philippe Coutinho steps up recovery as Barcelona debut nears

Barcelona have confirmed that new signing Philippe Coutinho is stepping up his recovery from injury as he waits to make his debut for his new club.

Following his arrival from Liverpool, the Brazilian was swiftly ruled out for three weeks with a thigh problem.

He has been in training in the sand at Ciutat Esportiva but is now doing work with the ball and hopefully soon he will be back with the group.

Barcelona’s initial estimate suggested Coutinho’s first match could be against Espanyol on February 4th, although he could possibly make the visit of Alaves on January 28th.

Here’s hoping his recovery continues to go well and we can see him in action soon.

WATCH: Cool Rondos at Barcelona Training

The team seems in good spirits ahead of the Betis clash

FC Barcelona are renowned for their passing accuracy and one-touch football, and here’s how they get so good: the rondo.

The team completed a few good ones recently, as they train before the game against Real Betis. Watch:

Luis Suárez claims to have gotten a touch on Gerard Piqué’s pass, but the defender is having none of it. “Nutmeg with 17!” he tells the Uruguayan repeatedly. He’s right, and he gets his way.

Another thing to note: how spectacularly cheesy the editing is!

Real Betis and Barcelona could serve up a real treat

Barcelona head to Real Betis on Sunday and we could be in for a real treat as Ernesto Valverde’s league leaders go up against Quique Setien’s entertainers.

The visitors will be hoping to bounce back from that defeat to Espanyol and preserve their unbeaten record in La Liga. However, Betis are seventh and have been one of Europe’s most watchable sides this season.

Only Barcelona and Valencia have scored more Liga goals than Betis this season and, quite remarkably, only struggling Deportivo La Coruna and bottom side Las Palmas have conceded more.

Real Betis Sevilla v Leganes - La Liga Santander
Photo by Eric Verhoeven/Soccrates/Getty Images

For while Betis have scored a prettty impressive 33 goals in 19 games, they’ve conceded 36, which is one of the main reasons why they’ve already suffered eight league defeats.

But watching Betis is a lot of fun, an awful lot of fun. In fact when it comes to their best match of the season, the list is getting pretty long, and we’re only halfway through.

Of course the 5-3 win in Sevilla will take some beating, but special mention must also go to the 4-4 draw with Real Sociedad, the 6-3 defeat by Valencia and last weekend’s 3-2 win over Leganes wasn’t too bad either.

Betis have also suffered some horrible defeats, they were beaten 5-3 by Cadiz in the Copa del Rey and hammered 5-0 at Eibar. Yet they have also tasted victory at the Santiago Bernabeu this season, taking home all three points in a 1-0 win.

Real Madrid v Betis - La Liga
Photo by Patricio Realpe/Getty Images

There’s a fair bit of Barca influence in the Betis team too with Cristian Tello and Antonio Sanabria in the ranks while the Blaugrana have been linked with a move for young midfielder Fabian.

The two teams met on the opening day back in August with Barcelona scoring two goals in three minutes to secure a 2-0 win.

Plenty has changed since then, for both sides, but Sunday’s game promises to be a real treat – let’s hope it lives up to expectations.

FC Barcelona News: 19 January 2018; Sergi Roberto Contract Extended, Aleix Vidal Transfer Close

Sergi Roberto and FC Barcelona agree contract renewal through to 2022 | FC Barcelona
FC Barcelona and Sergi Roberto have reached an agreement on a contract renewal, which will keep the player at the Camp Nou through to 30 June 2022. His buyout clause has been set at 500m euros. The date and venue for his official contract signing event will be announced in the coming days.

Vote for Gerard Piqué’s best moment at FC Barcelona | FC Barcelona
Pick your favourite of the moments we have selected from the centre back’s Barça career so far, in celebration of his contract renewal through to 2022.

Barcelona lose unbeaten run but no obituaries as Valverde plots return to winning ways | ESPN
A lot can change in 153 days. In fact, a lot can change in three days, as Ernesto Valverde regularly points out when encouraged to get carried away by Barcelona’s brilliant season so far. But despite being nine points clear at the top of the league, 19 ahead of Real Madrid (who are fourth) and safely through to the Champions League knockout stages, Valverde refuses to get giddy. Instead, he prefers to centre in on football’s more capricious qualities.

Vidal close to Sevilla return | Football Espana
Barcelona defender Aleix Vidal is moving closer to re-joining Sevilla this month as the club’s continue to negotiate, say reports in Spain. The 28-year-old initially joined the Blaugrana from the Andalucian club in the summer of 2015 for a €28m which included add-ons.

Barca soften Rafinha stance | Football Espana
Barcelona are willing to sanction the loan of midfielder Rafinha Alcantara to Inter with an obligation to buy, say reports.Earlier this week, Diario AS stated the Catalan giants value the midfielder at €40m with the Milanese club only willing to pay half that, with negotiations shifting to a loan deal with an obligation to buy.

OFFICIAL: Sergi Roberto extends Barcelona contract until 2022

Barcelona have confirmed that Sergi Roberto has extended his current deal until June 2022.

The news follows on from yesterday’s announcement that Gerard Pique had renewed his deal and like the centre-back, Roberto has a release clause of €500 million.

It’s more fantastic news for Barcelona who have really got down to business this January, as they look to tie up key players and bring in new stars.

Philippe Coutinho and Yerry Mina have arrived, Arda Turan has gone and the club have now secured Pique and Roberto’s futures.

Next up should be Samuel Umtiti and hopefully Barcelona will bring news of an extended contract for the France international soon.

Ronaldinho sends message to fans after retiring from football

Ronaldinho has sent a message to supporters after it was announced that the Brazilian legend has retired from football.

The Barcelona legend was simply one of the most talented players ever to grace world football and, coupled with his infectious enthusiasm, was simply a joy to watch.

Tributes to Ronaldinho have flown in from across the world, not least from Lionel Messi who played with the Brazilian at Camp Nou.

Ronaldinho has now responded with a lengthy message on Instagram. Here’s what he wrote

“Thank you, my God, for this life you gave me, family, friends and my first profession,” he said.

”After almost three decades dedicated to football, I say goodbye to my biggest dream, a dream come true. I did what I loved most, professionally for 20 years and 10 at youth level.

“I lived thoroughly this dream of children, every moment, trips, victories, defeats, the analysis, national anthem, the walk in the tunnel, dressing room, pitch entrance, the soccer shoes I used, the good and bad balls, tributes I won, the stars that I played with, those that I admired and played against and those that I only played in the PlayStation, but I admire until today!

”Anyway everything was amazing !!! My father and my family supported me a lot to get here, it was a team effort. We got to the end of the first stage with a beautiful story to tell … You know me, and you know I’m shy and I do not have the habit of talking a lot, but I have to say thank you to you from my heart to all the coaches, board members, directors, fans for and against, the coach driver, the ballboys, the referees and the press.

”In March we will announce how we will have the goodye celebrations and the plans for the future. For now this is to express my gratitude. That famous phrase ‘thanks mum’ for being my inspiration for so long and colleague of so many victories.”

Source | Instagram

What an absolute legend.

Espanyol Match Shows Why Barcelona Wanted Philippe Coutinho So Much

The team looked stagnant without the ex Liverpool man

FC Barcelona’s 29-game unbeaten run came to an end as Espanyol defeated them 1-0 in the Copa del Rey. Ernesto Valverde’s heavily rotated side were OK, but they lacked cutting edge.

With Luis Suárez and Ivan Rakitić on the bench, and Andrés Iniesta and Ousmane Dembélé injured, Barça’s lone route to goal seemed to be Lionel Messi. For once, he was off his game. He wasn’t bad, but he was far from his best. Suárez and Rakitić failed to affect the game once they came on, as well.

Aleix Vidal has pace and industry but little else, and while Paulinho can often finish plays, he’s not the greatest at starting them. Denis Suárez has shown flashes but he’s too inconsistent to rely on. Sergi Roberto often seemed the most likely route to goal, which is unfair for a right back. (He created the play that ended in a missed penalty, for one.)

Enter Philippe Coutinho. Signed from Liverpool, the Brazilian was badly missed in that Espanyol game. His ability to shoot from outside the box, as well as deliver the killer ball, would make a big difference.

Unfortunately, Coutinho isn’t illegible for the UEFA Champions League, but at least then, Barcelona might be able to have Iniesta and perhaps Dembélé back for at least one of the two matches against Chelsea. Iniesta should be fit soon, though right now, Dembélé is expected to be available for the second leg only.

But in the future, Barcelona will not have Iniesta. His retirement looms. And that is exactly why the Catalans moved heaven and earth for Coutinho.

Unfortunately, Coutinho won’t be available for the second leg of the Copa tie against Espanyol. Iniesta should be though. and giving Luis Suárez, Rakitić, Alba, and, of course, Messi 90 minutes at Camp Nou could be enough to overcome that.

For the really tricky games though, Barcelona will certainly be handicapped if they do not have either Iniesta or Coutinho. Valverde has organized the team well and Messi is always a source of inspiration, but against the top teams, it could be difficult.

Barcelona confirm Yerry Mina’s squad number

Barcelona have confirmed that new signing Yerry Mina will wear the No. 24 shirt for the rest of the season.

The summer signing has recently been unveiled at Camp Nou but is yet to debut for Barcelona, but hopefully he will soon.

Ernesto Valverde said that he could not feature against Espanyol in the Copa del Rey because his transfer was not quite completed, so it’s unclear when he will be available.

When he does play he will have the No. 24 on his back, which fits in nicely in defence between Samuel Umtiti at No. 23 and Thomas Vermaelen at No. 25.

He will also be following in the footsteps of some real legends who have worn the No. 24 shirt including, Fernando Couto, Carles Puyol, Yaya Toure and of course, Jeremy Mathieu.