FC Barcelona News: 18 January 2017; Squad Announced for Real Sociedad Match, Sergi Samper Reveals Arsenal Offer

Squad announced for visit to San Sebastián | FC Barcelona
Following the Wednesday morning training session, Luis Enrique announced his squad for the trip to San Sebastián to take on Real Sociedad in the Copa del Rey quarter final first leg.The squad sees the return of Gerard Piqué, Denis Suárez, Sergi Roberto and Jordi Masip. Ter Stegen, Aleix Vidal and Mathieu have been left out for technical reasons while Rafinha is injured.

All about FC Barcelona’s cup quarter final opponents | FC Barcelona
Real was originally founded as the football section of the San Sebastián Recreation Club in 1905. King Alfonso XIII regularly spent his summer vacations in the city and in 1909 endorsed the club’s current name of Real Sociedad de Fútbol, which translated to English means the ‘Royal Football Society’.

Lionel Messi: I’ll stay at Barcelona as long as club want me | Sky Sports
The Spanish champions recently agreed extensions with Luis Suarez and Neymar, but are yet to reach a deal with Messi, whose contract runs until 2018. Barca’s CEO Oscar Grau has suggested spending caps imposed by La Liga could affect what they are able to offer Messi.

Sergi Samper: I turned down move to Arsenal to succeed at Barcelona | ESPN
Barcelona midfielder Sergi Samper says he rejected an approach from Arsenal and told Arsene Wenger he wants to succeed at the Catalan club. Samper, 21, has so far struggled to lock down a place in Barcelona’s first-team squad and is spending this season on loan at Granada.

FC Barcelona U-14 team nominated for Best Sporting Moment of the Year 2016 | FC Barcelona
It all began with an innocent post-game lesson in sportsmanship. Today it is being held up as a shining example to the world.B ack in August, when the FC Barcelona Under-14 football team emerged with a 1–0 victory over local side Omiya Ardija Junior in the final of the World Challenge Cup, held in Japan, the losing team, as one can imagine, was inconsolable.

FC Barcelona legend Rivaldo visits Camp Nou | FC Barcelona
Vítor Borba Ferreira, known in the world of football as Rivaldo, is one of the most emblematic players in the history of the Club. He is currently visiting the city of Barcelona and has taken the opportunity to visit the club’s facilities. He met with president Josep Maria Bartomeu on Monday, who was accompanied by vice-president Jordi Mestre and directors Silvio Elias and Pau Vilanova.

Sorry, Premier League, but Sevilla’s win vs. Real Madrid shows La Liga rules | ESPN
As much as Sevilla’s last-gasp victory over Real Madrid late on Sunday night was an ideal catalyst to the La Liga title race, it also served as a wake-up call to those of the one track mind who, incorrectly, think that the Premier League has anything to teach Spain about competitiveness.

Barcelona Fire Club Official For “Criticizing” Lionel Messi, But Messi Wasn’t Bothered At All

Gratacós said Messi would not be as good without great teammates, adding that did not take away that he was “the best player.”

Pere Gratacós was removed from his position as Barcelona’s head of sporting relations to the Spanish federation, though he remains in the club with other jobs relating to youth development. Why? Because he made a statement that became controversial, and the club didn’t want any of that as they handle Lionel Messi’s renewal.

The comments, taken out of context and translated, got a lot of attention in the media and on social media. But were they that bad?

Asked whether Barcelona’s win over Atheltic Club Bilbao was down to only Lionel Messi, this was his answer: “It was not only Leo. Leo is one of the most important people in the team, but if the team won the tie it was also because of the whole team. Leo without Neymar, without Luis Suárez, without Andres Iniesta, without Gerard Piqué, without the rest, wouldn’t be as good, but it’s clear that Messi is the best player.”

Gratacós’s phrasing was not very good, and he invited controversy because of it. But seen in context, they seem like level-headed, fair, if not simply obvious things to say.

Now there’s a story in Mundo Deportivo that Messi’s entourage found the sacking confusing. Apparently Messi himself understood Gratacós, who gave him his debut at Barcelona B and maintains a good relationship with the player.

You could argue that Gratacós should have been more careful at this delicate time. But it’s also true that his words were twisted and people began grabbing their pitchforks before all the facts were in.

It’s hard not to see the sacking as a PR move if the story is true that Messi himself saw no issue with the statment.

Lionel Messi to Leave Barcelona for Manchester City? Nah.

The Source is The Sun. So…

Stop me if you heard this one before. Manchester City is willing to pay £100million to Barcelona to buy superstar Lionel Messi.

It’s an old one, but a good one, apparently, as it’s in The Sun again.

We’ve heard it all before. And it hasn’t happened. Is it going to happen? Probably not.

Without going into a rabbit hole, The Sun isn’t going to win any awards from football fans for being reliable… to say the least.

All right, there is some crumbs of logic to base the story around. Lionel Messi is negotiating a contract. Manchester City have a lot of money. A reunion with Pep Guardiola would be good, probably. Pep needs a star striker.

While I suspect City would love to pay that amount for Messi, to the extent someone somewhere may have even floated the idea to someone else somewhere else, the reality is this: everything we’ve heard from everyone in the know at Barcelona is that Messi wants to stay and the club wants him to.

There’s also the issue of Financial Fair Play but who knows how much that would impact the supposed signing.

Still, you’re gonna see a lot of these kinds of rumors every time Messi is pondering a renewal or is having some sort of issue or pouts slightly.

There’s good reason to ignore them.

Lionel Messi to Leave Barcelona for Manchester City? Nah.

The Source is The Sun. So…

Stop me if you heard this one before. Manchester City is willing to pay £100million to Barcelona to buy superstar Lionel Messi.

It’s an old one, but a good one, apparently, as it’s in The Sun again.

We’ve heard it all before. And it hasn’t happened. Is it going to happen? Probably not.

Without going into a rabbit hole, The Sun isn’t going to win any awards from football fans for being reliable… to say the least.

All right, there is some crumbs of logic to base the story around. Lionel Messi is negotiating a contract. Manchester City have a lot of money. A reunion with Pep Guardiola would be good, probably. Pep needs a star striker.

While I suspect City would love to pay that amount for Messi, to the extent someone somewhere may have even floated the idea to someone else somewhere else, the reality is this: everything we’ve heard from everyone in the know at Barcelona is that Messi wants to stay and the club wants him to.

There’s also the issue of Financial Fair Play but who knows how much that would impact the supposed signing.

Still, you’re gonna see a lot of these kinds of rumors every time Messi is pondering a renewal or is having some sort of issue or pouts slightly.

There’s good reason to ignore them.

Catalan Journalist Denies Transfer Rumor of Chelsea’s Diego Costa Moving to Barcelona

David Sánchez is having none of it.

Another rumor coming from the English press: Chelsea are looking to sell Diego Costa, currently feuding with manager Antonio Conte, and Barcelona are one of the suitors along with Atlético Madrid. That’s according to The Daily Star.

Asked to rate how likely this transfer to the Camp Nou was to happen, from zero to one million, Catalan journalist David Sánchez said: “not even zero.”

Sánchez, despite being on Radio MARCA, covers FC Barcelona and writes for Weloba.cat.

Amid Transfer Rumors, Ivan Rakitić Shows Barcelona Boss Luis Enrique Love

The Croatian is rumored to have a bad relationship with Lucho, but new quotes contradict this.

Ivan Rakitić hasn’t been playing as much lately as he’s used to, and there were stories in the press that he was on his way out amid a deteriorating relationship with coach Luis Enrique.

But his latest statements contradict at least the latter part of that rumor. In an interview with France Football, the midfielder said: “Luis Enrique has helped me enormously. He gave me confidence straight away, as did my teammates, which enabled me to work calmly.”

Rakitić went further: “it’s the ‘Mister’ who asked the club to sign me. If I had to throw myself off a bridge for Luis Enrique, I’d do it without hesitation.”

Wow. A lot of loyalty from a guy who supposedly hates him.

They said Lucho doesn’t talk to his players much, but Rakitić countered: “with a look or a smile, Luis Enrique gives you the confidence necessary to succeed”

Dominant showing from the Blaugranas on a great weekend

Something something, a pun about Las Palmas and a Manita, and a great game by Barcelona.

In the world of professional sports, and in a team as demanding as Barcelona, chances don’t come around often. Therefore, it is not uncommon for a player that seemed like a great fit on paper, and an otherwise tremendously gifted athlete, to struggle to find a spot as a starter. That has basically been the plight this season for Aleix Vidal. Perhaps never touted as someone who could lock down the right flank as skillfully as Dani Alves, he was nevertheless a very attractive acquisition. A palliative more than a cure, still a player that could have proven essential. To all outward appearances, though, he seemed never to be on the good graces of the skipper. This might have all changed after a particularly good performance this weekend, as Lucho himself lauded Vidal on his performance. If Barcelona manage to salvage a tremendous right-back in this transfer window, without having purchased anyone, I for one will be extremely optimistic on our chances this season.

Another reason to be optimistic, and truly I say this neither with malice nor the intention of causing insult, is Real Madrid’s loss this weekend. They had a fantastic run, and I believe congratulations are in order. Nevertheless, their loss does benefit us some, and hopefully our squad is finally whipping up into shape. Yes, it is more likely Barcelona will defeat easier opposition, and that has been the case so far, but they have struggled to outperform the stouter teams. It is easy, therefore, for the team to play beautifully and yet leave us with many doubts as to whether they can replicate that astounding quality when it matters, frankly. I say this, though, at the risk of being rejected like a pariah: there is still a hefty haul of the season left, and more than enough chances for our rivals to stumble. But assuming it never happens, and Real Madrid has a perfect season henceforth, I truly wouldn’t mind losing the league title if it means we can conquer both the Copa del Rey and the Champions League. Losing the league is no guarantee of success in the other competitions, however.

Irish Goat’s Gamboling Goleadores!

1st Goleador: Lionel Messi

What a terrific way to start the year for the little genius. While it would have been exceedingly entertaining to see him continue his ridiculous streak of scoring free kicks, it was still an incredible performance. His passing is always impeccable, and there is no one, other than Iniesta, with the inhuman ability to see a play developing and playing the ball right at the most precise moment.

2nd Goleador: Luis Suárez

Since Luisito and Messi cannot share the top spot, he is therefore in the second spot of this rating of the top three goleadores. Make no mistake, however, as he is tied for best player in all but number. He scored twice, and provided terrific pressure for the entirety of the match. One can only hope this signifies the start of another terrific stretch of dominance by the MSN, as it seems all three are currently on top form.

3rd Goleador: Rafinha

Rafinha should be getting more minutes in the starting eleven. The question, then, becomes who do you bench? Not Iniesta, clearly, and Busquets is not easily substituted. Rakitić is already seeing lessened minutes, therefore it seems his position is the one most likely to see changes. If Denis and Gomes are already seeing minutes, it stands to reason that Rafinha should be top choice after his consistent run.

As always Visca Barça!

FC Barcelona News: 17 January 2017; Preparations Begin for Real Sociedad Clash, Rafinha Ruled Out

FC Barcelona back at training in preparation for Copa del Rey first leg at Real Sociedad | FC Barcelona
But with a Copa del Rey trip to Real Sociedad to come on Thursday, it was back down to the nitty-gritty at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper, where the temperatures have taken a dip as the cold front that’s sweeping across Europe arrives in Catalonia. More northern climes may be enduring much chillier conditions than Barcelona, but 7ºC is mightily cold for this part of the world.

Where and when to watch Real Sociedad v FC Barcelona | FC Barcelona
FC Barcelona travel to San Sebastián on Thursday ahead of their 9.15pm CET match against Real Sociedad in the Copa del Rey quarter finals first leg. Luis Enrique’s players, following victories over Hércules and Athletic Club in the round of 32 and the round of 16, face a rival they beat in their last cup encounter in the semifinals of the 2013/14 season.

FC Barcelona v Leganés on Sunday 19 February at 8.45pm CET | FC Barcelona
The times and dates have been announced for the 23rd round of Liga matches, when FC Barcelona are due to welcome Leganés to the Camp Nou for the first time ever. The Catalans won 5-1 when the two sides met in southern Madrid earlier this season.

Injured Rafinha out against Real Sociedad | FC Barcelona
FC Barcelona’s Rafinha Alcántara has pulled a hamstring muscle and will have to sit out this Thursday’s Copa del Rey first leg away to Real Sociedad. The club doctors will need to monitor the Brazilian’s progress before determining his availability for other matches.

Why Lionel Messi won’t leave Barcelona for Manchester City | ESPN
Lionel Messi has once again been linked with a world-record move to Manchester City, but it’s difficult to see him leaving Barcelona. While his new contract remains unsigned — his current terms expire in 2018 — there will continue to be speculation, although there are plenty of reasons why he won’t leave Camp Nou.

FCB Universitas launches its platform for knowledge dissemination and online learning | FC Barcelona
FCB Universitas, Sport Innovation Hub, the programme which generates and transfers the knowledge created by FC Barcelona will inaugurate, on Tuesday, its digital space for knowledge dissemination and online learning, which can be accessed via the Club’s website (www.fcbarcelona.com/fcbuniversitas).

La Liga News: 17 January 2017; Real Sociedad Ease Past Malaga, Gael Kakuta Joins Deportivo La Coruna

Real Madrid’s Martin Odegaard aiming to get back on track at Heerenveen | Sky Sports
Martin Odegaard had the footballing world at his feet when he signed for Real Madrid in January 2015. The precocious playmaker had been courted by every top club in Europe after he was fast-tracked into Norway’s national team at the age of 15, and he arrived in the Spanish capital to a backdrop of frenzied hype and expectation.

Sevilla fans abuse of Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos condemned by LFP – ESPN FC
The Spanish Football League (LFP) has sent a report denouncing abusive language by radical Sevilla fans directed at Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos to the government’s anti-violence committee for sports and the country’s Football Federation.

Real Socieded up to fifth after easing past Malaga – ESPN
Real Socieded climbed to fifth in La Liga after an ultimately comfortable 2-0 win at mid-table Malaga. Inigo Martinez and Juanmi claimed the goals early in the second half after an evenly contested first period.

Martin Demichelis signs short-term Malaga deal after Espanyol release – ESPN FC
Martin Demichelis has signed a six-month contract to return to Malaga after being released by Espanyol. Demichelis, 36, joined Espanyol in the summer after leaving Manchester City but his one-year contract was terminated halfway through after making only one appearance.

Kakuta completes Depor loan | Football Espana
Deportivo La Coruna have signed Gael Kakuta on loan from Hebei China Fortune for the remainder of the season. The French winger moved to China in February last year after a six-month stint at Sevilla but he will now return to La Liga to play for his third Spanish club, having also played for Rayo Vallecano.

Barral joins Cypriot giants | Football Espana
Striker David Barral has left Granada after less than a year and plenty of controversy at the Andalucian club to join Cypriot giants APOEL. The 33-year-old was temporarily suspended from training with El Grana earlier in the season after allegedly punching teammate Isaac Cuenca, for which he later apologised.

Barcelona midfielder Rafinha Alcântara out indefinitely with hamstring injury

OH CRAP

Barcelona manager Luis Enrique had his entire squad available for the first time since September, but now he’s got another injury to worry about.

Brazilian midfielder Rafinha Alcântara is out indefinitely with a hamstring injury, the club announced on Tuesday. Rafinha will not be available for the Copa del Rey match against Real Sociedad on Thursday, and while the club doesn’t give a timetable for his return, muscle injuries usually take 15-20 days to heal, so Rafinha is probably out until the first week of February.

The 23-year-old is enjoying his best season as a Blaugrana, with 18 appearances and six goals in all competitions. Rafinha provides versatility as he can play in midfield or out wide in attack, and his absence probably means more minutes for Denis Suarez and Arda Turan for the next two or three weeks.

Get well soon, Rafa. You’ve become really important to us. We need you back quickly.