Barcelona can not afford to make the same mistake with Messi as they did with Neymar

Messi to Manchester City is a very real possibility and Barcelona can not attempt to laugh it away like they did with the Brazilian. 

When the absurd news that PSG were preparing a €222 million bid for Neymar, many immediately dismissed it. Bearing in mind the transfer record at that time was the €105 million Manchester United paid for Paul Pogba, the idea that a club was ready to double it within the space of a year seemed another piece of tabloid sensationalism. Also, why would Neymar leave? He was at one of Europe’s elite and the switch would have placed him at a team trying to break into that.

The list of reasons why not grew and grew but the reasons why were clear. Neymar wanted to, he wanted to be the star and felt he couldn’t be in Lionel Messi’s shadow. His recent comments also suggest a displeasure with the current Barcelona board, a mutual feeling within the squad that many of the current players are unable to comment on.

Barça lived in a state of denial right up until Neymar played his first game for the Parisian club. Denying any rumours, refusing to deal with PSG and with a large amount of pettiness, not allowing Neymar to play right away. They seemed shocked that another club was employing the same transfer tactics that they had used for years.

Put yourself in Messi’s shoes. You’ve seen the players you’ve grown up with leave or become discontent. Puyol gone, Xavi gone, Pinto gone, Iniesta considering his future and now Neymar leaves. The once unthinkable idea of leaving Barça becomes one that is increasingly attractive. Pep Guardiola’s project at City is an appealing one. More money, a chance to escape this Barça board and a chance to be reunited with the coach that got the best out of Messi.

Earlier this summer, Bartomeu gave an interview saying Messi had already signed his extension, this was false. Then he said he would sign it after the player returned from his holidays, this was false. Then he said Messi would sign after the US tour, this was false. Which is why we arrive on the 21st of August with the Liga season begun and still Messi has not signed the extension.

Messi’s current buyout clause stands at €300 million which a month ago seemed impossible to meet but after the Neymar saga, that figure is looking more and more affordable. Reports of a call between Pep Guardiola and Messi emerged at the weekend with the latter supposedly being open to a switch to Manchester City.

Messi and Neymar are two totally different cases. One was a signing made when the player was 21 while the other has been at the club since he was 12. The Argentine has grown up at the club and owes a lot to that for his success. It is not unreasonable to expect Messi to stay at the Camp Nou until he retires but that does not mean the Barça board can take any chances of him leaving as definitely not happening. This summer has already been a disaster for the Catalan club and it could be made into the worst window ever for the club if Messi were to depart.

No negotiations with Barcelona and Seri is staying, say Nice

The club say they have not opened talks with the Blaugrana

Transfer rumors linking Nice midfielder Jean Seri with Barcelona have intensified in the last few days. In fact the rumors have gotten such traction that Nice general manager Julian Fournier has felt the need to address the current speculation.

He has made it clear that he hasn’t been made aware of any negotiation attempts between Nice and Barcelona over the midfielder, as well as saying that he believes Seri will stay with the club.

“We haven’t negotiated with Barça nor do I know of any negotiations lined up in the next few days. They’re just rumours, so we haven’t set a price for Seri.”

“I think the player will stay with us this season. It’s true that he is open to listening to offers but he’s also happy at Nice whether we qualify for the group stages of the Champions League or not.”

Julien Fournier | SPORT

The quotes just reiterate the difficult timeline that Barcelona have with multiple players they wish to bring in.

As the close of the transfer window approaches, teams can potentially continue to increase the price of their players as Barcelona become more desperate.

FC Barcelona News: 21 August 2017; Barça start La Liga season with victory, Agree deal with Dortmund for Dembélé

A round-up of the latest Barcelona news and transfer rumors

A very special opening day fixture from the inside – FC Barcelona
The Club’s cameras recorded footage of the pre-game acitivities that took place in tribute to the victimes of the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils

FC Barcelona go nine years straight winning on opening day – FC Barcelona
With the win over Real Betis, The Blaugrana have now won their opening games in La Liga for nine straight seasons since 2009/10

Recovery session after La Liga opener – FC Barcelona
Ernesto Valverde’s men were back to work after opening the 2017/18 La Liga season with a win over Betis

MATCH REPORT: Barça ease past Betis to claim 2-0 win – FC Barcelona
Sergi Roberto and an own goal from Tosca saw Barça home with the woodwork denying Messi the chance to make the win more emphatic

HIGHLIGHTS: Barça 2 Betis 0 – FC Barcelona
Enjoy the goals and the rest of the action from FC Barcelona’s opening day win against Betis in the 2017/18 league season

Ernesto Valverde: ‘We have a good feeling, above all with the level of the team’ – FC Barcelona
The Blaugrana boss stressed the importance of an opening day win to begin the season on the front foot

Sergi Roberto looking for more goals this season – FC Barcelona
The blaugrana midfielder was happy with the way the game went and his first goal of the season

Barca wait for ‘right time’ on Messi deal | Football Espana
Barcelona sporting director Robert Fernandez rejected reports Lionel Messi will leave the club and insisted his contract will be signed ‘at the right moment’.

Quartet track Barca’s Munir | Football Espana
Barcelona forward Munir El Haddadi is set to exit the club this month with interest from clubs in Spain, England and Italy, say reports.

Barca ‘admit defeat’ for Coutinho? | Football Espana
Barcelona are giving up on the possibility of signing Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho this summer, according to reports in Spain.

Barca ‘very close’ to Dembele agreement | Football Espana
Ousmane Dembele is ‘very close’ to joining Barcelona as the Catalan giants finalise ‘adds on’ with Borussia Dortmund, according to El Mundo Deportivo.

Happy Sergi Roberto staying at Barcelona

The midfielder has spoken out about his future

Sergi Roberto says he is happy at Barcelona and wants to stay and become an important player for the Blaugrana at Camp Nou.

The 25-year-old has been linked with a Barcelona exit this summer but played down talk of a move after scoring in the 2-0 win over Real Betis on Saturday.

“I’m happy, [against Real Madrid in the Super Cup] I was happy on a personal level and I felt comfortable today, too.

“I played in my favoured midfield position. I started at the Bernabeu and the coach has given me confidence. I’ve scored today and I want to be important.

“In pre-season I wasn’t starting, but now in the official matches I am playing more. I want to continue here and continue like this.”

Source | Marca

Restored to midfield, Roberto put in an impressive display against Betis and his comments should now hopefully end speculation he could leave the club.

F.C Barcelona 2-0 Real Betis: La Liga, Gameweek 1: Player Ratings

Navjot’s scores from Barça’s league opener.

Marc Andre ter Stegen (5/10)

Despite a dominant victory for Barcelona, Ter Stegen wasn’t at his best. The German did not have to save a ton of shot considering the very few chances that Real Betis managed to create. How ever, he wasn’t at his distributive best, often choosing to make the safe pass instead of initiating counter-attacks.


Jordi Alba (5/10)

It is difficult to judge Jordi Alba when he is on the wrong side of the field. For most of last year, the attacking side of the pitch was usually the left flank. However, in the absence of Neymar and Iniesta, Alba seemed pretty lost as to what was expected of him. Misplacing simple passes, the Spaniard did just enough to put in a decent outing and not let the rest of the team down.


Javier Mascherano (7/10)

There is not much that can be said about El Jefecito apart from the fact that he had an absolutely sensational game. Despite talks of his dwindling physical capabilities going around, there was little physical evidence on the night. From start to finish–including an excellent tackle from behind to deny Sergio Leon–Mascherano put in a defensive masterclass and reaffirmed his importance to the team.


Samuel Umtiti (6/10)

A solid performance from the Frenchman. Umtiti wasn’t making tackles galore but he was the perfect supporting role, winning balls in the air and holding the fort like a man on a mission. However, he was the second best centre-back on the night, which is okay.


Nelson Semedo (6/10)

We all love Aleix Vidal but Nelson Semedo is simply better. The Portuguese offered excellent control going forward. His tendency to cut in was negated by Gerard Deulofeu who stuck to his flank to take apart the conpact Betis defence. This allowed Semedo to play his natural game and show us how good he can be with the ball at his feet. If he keeps playing the way he did last night, I would say he is already on course to become a mainstay on the team-sheet..


Sergio Busquets (7/10)

There is very little to say about Busquets. He was the man in the middle running the show alongside another player whom we’ll get to. Busquets was everywhere–controlling the tempo, making runs in possession playing one-twos and breaking down the tight Betis defence.


Ivan Rakitic (5/10)

Things haven’t been going very well for Ivan Rakitic. While he wasn’t under-performing, he was definitely under the radar for most of the game. Playing simple passes and letting Deulofeu and Semedo to run the show, Rakitic spent quite some time covering for the men around him. It is a role that we have seen him thrive in, bt it is time for the Croatian to be a little more, which just seemed lacking.


Sergi Roberto (7/10)

A goal to his name is a deserved reward for a solid performance. Stepping up for Andres Iniesta can be hard but Sergi Roberto did more than enough to keep his critics quiet. Linking well with everyone, Sergi Roberto played the kind of incisive game that I expect from a more seasoned midfielder. His positioning was excellent and he managed to do a commendable job filling in for the captain. More of the same, please.


Gerard Deulofeu (8/10)

Man of the match. While Deulofeu wasn’t the best player on the pitch, it was his actions that were the most productive. Forcing the first goal with a teasing ball across the goal, and creating the second with an intelligent pull-back for Sergi Roberto, Deulofeu made a solid case for himself. If preseason wasn’t enough, this should do the trick.


Paco Alcacer (5/10)

A relatively invisible performance considering the lack of supply on his end, Alcacer managed to get into decent spots without cluttering up the middle. His positioning and sense of attacking play allowed him to keep some of the defenders on his coattails. Nothing special, but still a utilitarian performance.


Lionel Messi (8/10)

On any other night, Messi would have been the man of the match; not this one. Hitting the woodwork thrice, Messi was unfortunate to not have gotten on the score sheet. The Argentine however, was the key to everything, unlocking the opposition defence and pretty much taking matters into his own hands. Messi ran the show alongside Busquets, controlling and creating for all those around him playing in his vintage false 9 role. Every attack went through Messi, and if it wasn’t for bad luck, he could have added 3 goals to his game.


Aleix Vidal (4/10)

A welcome relief to see Aleix Vidal in the front line. There wasn’t much to his game considering that Betis had already shut down by the time Vidal came on. He did miss a very good chance, but he was still settling in and it was to be expected.


Denis Suarez (NA)

Nothing special, and came on too late to have any significant impact.


Lucas Digne (NA)

Once again, too late of an appearance to have any impact.


The Team (7/10)

Barca looked in control and created plenty of chances. A more clinical team could have scored 5-6 goals, but then they probably wouldn’t have created as many chances. Solid in attack and defence, with sufficient midfield control.


Ernesto Valverde (7/10)

Ernie had a good game tactically bar subs. He set up his team well, with an inverted player and a flank operator on either side (Semedo-Deulofeu/Alcacer-Alba). His changes however, were too late and practically ineffective. Yes, they gave us a glimpse of what the bench had to offer, but with little to no time left on the clock, it made no difference. Good management, but could have been better.


Man of the Match

Gerard Deulofeu.

Maybe this selection is a little biased considering how happy I am that he finally had a decent performance against a good side. Hopefully this game gives him the confidence to step up and make himself indispensable.

Barcelona 2-0 Real Betis, 2017 La Liga: 3 Things We Learned

A few takeaways from a great win in the league opener

Barcelona started the new La Liga season with a very good win over Real Betis at Camp Nou. The Blaugrana were great in the first 45 minutes and kept the clean sheet in the second half on their way to a solid 2-0 victory.

Here are a few takeaways from what we saw on Sunday night in Catalonia:


1 – Pep Ball is coming back

Three years of Luis Enrique simply destroyed all the great years under Pep Guardiola and Tito Vilanova where Barça dominated possession, knew how to play their way out of pressing situations and used triangles and one-twos to create spaces in the final third. We also saw Lionel Messi as a False Nine again, which was Valverde’s answer to the absence of Luis Suárez. With Gerard Deulofeu and Paco Alcácer either side of him and a lot of support from Sergio Busquets and Sergi Roberto in midfield, Messi was sensational in a central position again, able to dribble past defenders in tight spaces and finding spaces to get shots off.

Messi hit the post three times and should have scored on the night, but as good as Leo was, it didn’t look as though he was the sole reason for Barça’s win as we saw over and over again over the last 12 months. The team looked strong and the collective play benefited Messi, not the other way around. That’s good news.

2 – Sergi Roberto is good again

A whole season at full-back last year did no good for Roberto’s development, but his return to midfield combined with the confidence he gained during the Luis Enrique Era seems to have brought the Roberto we all fell in love with in the 2015-16 season. Sergi helped with the buildup and was a constant attacking option arriving at the box, and he scored a goal to cap off an impressive display.

We all love Roberto because of that goal against PSG, but the kid has much more to his game and with him playing in midfield and Valverde slowly bringing the positional play back to the team, he might develop into a great player after all.

3 – There’s a lot of potential in this team

The second half was quite boring and Barça couldn’t replicate what they did in the first half, but those initial 45 minutes gave me a lot of encouragement. Valverde bringing Pep Ball back was something we expected and saw a bit in preseason, but the games against Real Madrid gave us no reason to believe it would work. Real Betis is a step down in level of opposition, but there is reason to believe Valverde can make this team a very good one. He needs more players and time to train, but the first half of Sunday’s game showed that something good is happening at Barça.

The crisis is still here and something big needs to happen in this transfer window, but things are not as horrible as they seemed before the Betis game.

Plenty of positives for Barcelona in Real Betis win

It was a good night all round for the Blaugrana

Barcelona could have been forgiven for approaching Sunday’s Liga opener with some nervousness, they had after all just been thrashed by Real Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana while their biggest transfer news of the summer was Neymar departing for PSG. Such a shock transfer, it still seems weird now.

The game also took place amid huge uncertainty over whether Barca will actually land their top summer targets Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele, and with rumours of a Manchester City move for Lionel Messi beginning to raise its ugly head once again.

Ernesto Valverde was also without Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta and Luis Suarez due to injury but chose to include summer arrivals Nelson Semedo and Gerard Deulofeu in his starting XI. There was also room for Sergi Roberto, who has frequently been linked with an exit, and all will have impressed the new coach.

Barcelona v Real Betis - La Liga
Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Indeed Deulofeu could have scored after just three minutes, prodding wide when he might have done better after some good work from Sergi Roberto, the two La Masia graduates combining to good effect and giving the crowd some early optimism.

The winger then set up the opener, fizzing in a cross which Lionel Messi looked to have converted, before television replays revealed that actually it just caught a nick off Alin Tosca before flying past his own goalkeeper.

There was no doubt about the second goal, Deulofeu again involved, teeing up Roberto who fired home for his first ever La Liga goal for Barcelona.

Barcelona v Real Betis - La Liga
Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

It could have been so different in truth, just moments before Sergio Leon looked set to equalise before Javier Mascherano pulled off what will quite possibly be the tackle of the season, to deny the Betis man.

Deulofeu only lasted 72 minutes before being replaced by Aleix Vidal and it was a strong showing by the former Everton man. The doubts remain of course, but this was a promising start, tougher tests await.

Roberto too sent a clear message to Valverde. Ahead of the game the new Barca coach has insisted the youngster remained a key player, and his performance was one that suggested talk of an exit is nonsense.

And what of Semedo? Well, his was a debut to remember, his passing was flawless in the first half, and he also showed a few glimpses of just how good he is in possession. That’s not all, his pace and acceleration going forward are a real threat, while defensively he was untroubled.

Real Madrid v FC Barcelona - Supercopa de Espana: 2nd Leg
Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Barca might have had more too, with Lionel Messi chasing his 350th La Liga goal, but somehow it wasn’t to be. Three times it looked like the landmark was his, and three times he was denied by the woodwork. When you luck is out, it’s out, but don’t worry it won’t last long.

So Messi couldn’t celebrate, but Valverde will be happy, the pressure is relieved somewhat, the new boys performed and it’s possible there may be more new faces the next time Barca take the field against Alaves on Saturday.

Barcelona vs. Real Betis, 2017 La Liga: Final Score 2-0, Dominant Barça win league opener

A great victory to start the league season!

Barcelona kicked off the new season of La Liga in exciting fashion, thoroughly dominating Real Betis for 90 minutes en route to a 2-0 win at Camp Nou. The score isn’t as big, but the performance was truly sensational, especially in the first half. Maybe the season won’t be too bad after all.

FIRST HALF

For those going into the match expecting a tough match, they were treated to a Pep Guardiola style beatdown. With Lionel Messi at False Nine and some amazing Positional Play, Barça dominated the entire first half, using high pressing, quick passes and movement to find spaces and create chances. There were one-twos, triangles and through balls for the first time in a long time, and Messi had at least four real chances to score the opener.

It took the Blaugrana 35 minutes to find the net, but they did it. Messi played a one-two with Gerard Deulofeu, who had his pass deflected by Tosca into the net. Just two minutes later Deulofeu pressed a Betis defender, recovered the ball inside the box and gave a tap-in to Sergi Roberto, who easily scored the second.

At halftime, it was a truly amazing performance from the Catalans, and they had a deserved two-goal lead.

SECOND HALF

The final period was about keeping the lead and avoiding trouble, and the plan worked. Betis got a little more possession and tried moving into Barça’s half, but they were never able to test Ter Stegen in goal. The Blaugrana couldn’t replicate the spectacle shown in the first half, but that wasn’t really necessary.

In the end, the league debut was a lot better than anyone expected, and maybe the season will also be a lot better than we expected. Tonight’s win is certainly a very encouraging sign.


Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Mascherano, Umtiti, Alba (Digne); Rakitic, Busquets; Deulofeu (Vidal), Roberto, Alcácer (Denis); Messi

Goals: Tosca (O.G. 36’), Roberto (39’)

Betis: Adán; Barragán, Mandi, Feddal, Tosca; Narváez (J.García), Guardado, Camarasa (Fabián); Nahuel (Francis), S.León, Joaquín

Goals: None

Semedo posts amazing stat on his La Liga debut for Barcelona

He didn’t put a foot wrong in a superb first-half

It’s fair to say Nelson Semedo made an instant impression for Barcelona on his La Liga debut, particularly in the first half.

Ernesto Valverde started the summer signing at right-back and was rewarded with a very impressive performance by the Portugal international.

And Opta did a great job of highlighting exactly how good Nelsinho was in the first half, managing a feat no-one else on the pitch could match.

Right-back has been a problem position for Barca ever since Dani Alves’ departure, and while this is only one performance, Semedo is looking like some buy already.

Gerard Deulofeu, Sergi Roberto create back-to-back goals to push Barcelona into lead against Real Betis

That escalated quickly…

After 35 minutes of tame football, Barcelona have surged into a 2-0 lead against Real Betis to kick off the La Liga season. Gerard Deulofeu played a hand in both goals as his flank play and centering passes caused an own goal to make it 1-0 and set up Sergi Roberto to double the lead.

Betis’ Tosca was credited with the own goal on the first play, but there would be no doubt who would get credit for the second as Sergi Roberto wandered forward to slam in another great play by Deulofeu.