Transfer Rumors: Barcelona Reach Deal With Arsenal’s Mesut Özil

The news comes from Catalunya Ràdio

FC Barcelona has spoken with Mesut Özil’s agent and they have reached an agreement to bring the German to the Camp Nou, according to Club de la Mitjanit, the show on Catalunya Ràdio and Esport3. The player would sign for this season and three more, and Arsenal would get a 20 million euro fee for the transfer.

Özil’s departure from the Gunners has been rumored for a while, with Manchester United also said to be interested. However, this news tells us the personal terms are agreed with the player himself, which is a big step.

It remains to be seen if Arsenal do let him go for that relatively cheap fee. The player could leave for free at the end of the season, though, so their negotiating position is not strong.

Lionel Messi Will NOT Start vs. Juventus, But He’s Not Injured

Ernesto Valverde has taken quite a bold step

In a surprising move, to say the least, Ernesto Valverde has decided to keep Lionel Messi out of the starting XI in FC Barcelona’s big UEFA Champions League match against Juventus.

Thankfully, it’s not because of any injury concerns, says journalist Gerard Romero. He says it is a “technical decision.” and Messi is resting up for Barcelona’s huge clash against Valencia on Sunday.

If so, that’s one hell of a bold move from Valverde, but there is logic to it. Barcelona are almost assured a spot in the knockout stages, and a draw tonight would be enough to win the group outright.

Meanwhile, Valencia are flying high and pose a serious threat to the Blaugrana in La Liga, just four points behind.

Still, this is not something you’d expect… and let’s not forget Barça are not assured of anything in the Champions League yet.

FC Barcelona Offers Assistance to Sevilla Coach Eduardo Berizzo, Who Has Cancer

Sadly, Barça have experience with this.

The sad news that Sevilla coach Eduardo Berizzo has cancer shocked the footballing world, but it’s also prompted many teams and players to step forward and offer help and support.

One of them is FC Barcelona, who has offered to help and support Berizzo using their medical team if necessary.

“Barça’s president has called me, offering all the experience of their medical team. I think it’s fair for me to mention this,” Sevilla president José Castro said.

Sadly, Barça have experience with this, in the cases of Éric Abidal and Tito Vilanova. Abidal was a player who was struck with cancer, rehabbed, came back and won the Champions League, then had the cancer reemerge and beat it again.

Vilanova was Barcelona’s assistant coach and then head coach, but his one season in charge was marred by frequent absence due to throat cancer. He was able to beat it, but once again, the cancer reemerged and he had to resign from coaching before the start of his second season to focus on treatment. Tragically, he died from the disease later that year.

We all hope Berizzo is able to recuperate.

Luis Suárez Appeal Successful, But Gerard Piqué Cannot Play vs. Valencia

Barcelona go 1 for 2 on yellow card appeals

Good news and bad news for FC Barcelona.

The good? Luis Suárez’s appeal to rescind a yellow card picked up against Leganés was accepted by the competition committee. The player was booked for “impeding” goalkeeper Pichu Cuéllar when he had the ball in his grasp, but the replay tells a different story.

Cuéllar actually put his hand to Suárez’s body first, and the striker responded by pushing his hand aside. Cuéllar then took a dive and grasped his face for no apparent reason. The committee noted this and rescinded the card.

Now the bad news. Gerard Piqué’s yellow won’t be rescinded, and that’s big because he will have to serve a one-match ban as Barcelona face against second-place Valencia. Not only that, but Javier Mascherano is injured. That leaves only Thomas Vermaelen available to partner Samuel Umtiti, unless coach Ernesto Valverde wants to experiment with another player out of position.

Piqué was given a yellow unfairly, according to Valverde. The defender was booked for his first foul and many questioned whether it was harsh enough to merit a booking.

Ivan Rakitić: "I Can’t Say with 100% Certainty if Lionel Messi Stays"

“I have confidence that Leo will stay at Barça until the end.”

There are rumors that Lionel Messi might leave Barcelona next summer, and his teammate Ivan Rakitić has stated he is not completely sure if the Argentine star will remain at the Camp Nou.

For me, I have already said that Messi is part of the shield. And not just now. It’s been his trajectory. I can’t say with 100% certainty that he will stay or not. That is his decision. We have to respect him. I also want to play with Leo, tomorrow and for five more years. As a teammate I can only say that we enjoy him and he has our support. There is a lot more for us to go through together.

Barcelona’s president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, insists that Messi is legally playing under a new contract, though the player has yet to physically sign. The Croatian midfielder expressed confidence Messi would stay, however:

They have told me everything is going well. I have confidence in our president and inLeo and I knowthat he wants to stay with us. We wait for his moment. It will surely come. Leo is unique. Let’s not overthink it. What we need to do is give him all our affection and support that he needs. Are we worried if Messi leaves? I have confidence that Leo will stay at Barça until the end.”

Around La Liga: Madrid Derby Ends in Draw, Valencia Continues Winning

It’s set up nicely for a top-of-the-table clash with Barcelona

Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid played a goalless draw that puts them both 10 points behind the leaders, Barcelona. Meanwhile, Valencia won again to set up a huge top-of-the-table clash with Barça next weekend.

Both Madrid teams were desperate to win to reboot their moribund La Liga campaigns, but in the end, the only winners were FC Barcelona and Valencia as Atléti and Real played out a 0-0 draw.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, and Antoine Griezmann also continued their uncharacteristically barren run of goals as well. The three stars have a combined two goals this season.

Both clubs are now 10 points behind Barcelona, and 6 behind Valencia.

Valencia won despite Espanyol hitting the post twice, thanks to a rocket by Geoffrey Kondogobia and a goal by Santi Mina capitalizing on a defensive error. Valencia will be desperate to close the gap to just one point by beating Barcelona next weekend.

Both Madrid clubs have to keep going, too, because Sevilla is intent on keeping the pressure on from fifth place, just 2 points behind them.

Sevilla defeated Celta Vigo 2-1, even as Celta got the lead first thanks to a long-range headed goal from Maxi Gómez. The rojiblancos got in front through two headed goals, first from Luis Muriel and then from Nolito, who, along with Sevilla’s coach Eduardo Berizzo, used to be employed by Celta.

At the other end of the table, Málaga got an important – and dramatic – victory over Deportivo La Coruña, in what could have implications for the relegation fight. For the moment Málaga are in the relegation zone and Depor aren’t, but that is subject to change.

Las Palmas continued their streak of losses, this time against Levante 0-2. That’s their 8th in a row, and they’re joined at the bottom by Deportivo Alavés, who lost 1-4 against Getafe.

Andrés Iniesta and Gianluigi Buffon: Face to Face Before Barcelona vs. Juventus

Watch this interview!

Andrés Iniesta and Gianluigi Buffon will be facing each other on the field, possibly for the last time, as Barcelona prepare their UEFA Champions League match against Juventus.

But before that, the two were interviewed for FC Barcelona’s YouTube channel, and they both answered questions about their lives and futures.

Watch:

Interesting points:

  • Buffon said this could be his last year, while Iniesta simply said he’d stop when his body couldn’t do it anymore
  • Iniesta mentioned Pep Guardiola and Michael Laudrup as his heroes, while Buffon named a whole bevy of Italian keepers… although he mentioned Cameroonian Thomas N’Kono first!
  • Iniesta quickly says he hopes Barça win the Champions League when asked who will lift the trophy. Meanwhile, Buffon thinks about it a bit, says it’ll be the team in the best shape, and then says he hopes it’s Juve.

Who Should Barcelona Sign in the Winter Transfer Market?

We want your ideas.

Barcelona might need a reinforcement during the winter transfer window. So we’re going to put it up to you, the community.

Who would you sign, if anyone?

Some things to consider:

  1. Is the player realistically available? That’s a no for Antoine Griezmann, for example.
  2. Is the player cup tied? Philippe Coutinho is, and that means he wouldn’t help the team in the UEFA Champions League. It’s not disqualifying, but definitely something to keep in mind.
  3. Is the player going to improve the team? There are many prospects out there with a lot of hype, but shining in Ligue 1 (for example) is not the same as getting minutes at Barcelona.

So, fans, who would you get?

FIFA World Cup 2018: Barcelona Connection for All Teams

Should you support this team in the World Cup? Let’s see the connection to your favorite team

Everyone has World Cup teams they like, including obviously their own country if they qualified. But what about if you’re a neutral since your team didn’t qualify? Or what about matches in which you don’t really know either team but still want to pull for one side?

I’m going to give you a little guide about which teams to support given their connection to Barcelona… no matter how obscure.

AFC

Australia: Ummm. Mitchell Langerak, one of their keepers, is a backup at Levante. So… who knows, really.

Iran: Their coach, Carlos Queiroz, was once the manager of Real Madrid. Oppose.

Japan: Barça’s current sponsor, Rakuten, is Japanese. Thanks for paying the bills.

Saudi Arabia: Their coach, Edgardo Bauza, nearly cost Lionel Messi the chance to be in the tournament by being unbelievably bad. Oppose unless they sack him, which they should.

South Korea: You know what, we’re on a high from that Tottenham Hotspur win over Real Madrid. Son Heung-min gets our weak support. I’m sure he’s thrilled.

CAF

Egypt: Their coach, Héctor Cúper, once managed Valencia. That’s all I can think of. General meh.

Morocco: Achraf Hakimi is a Real Madrid player. Oppose unless they call up Munir El-Haddadi.

Nigeria: Emmanuel Amunike and Samuel Okunowo played for Barça back in the day. Weak support.

Senegal: Diawandou Diagné played for Barcelona B, but he’s not getting call-ups… so meh.

Tunisia: Can’t think of much, but hey – neither their coach or captain voted for Messi in the top 3 for the FIFA The Best Awards. So you know, oppose, or whatever.

CONCACAF

Costa Rica: Keylor Navas. Oppose.

Mexico: Unfortunately the days of Rafael Márquez are done, but there’s still a chance for Giovani Dos Santos and his brother Jonathan to get in the team. Support.

Panama: It’s their first World Cup. They’ll probably get torn up but whatever, you have to root for such underdogs.

CONMEBOL

Argentina: Are you kidding? Messi. Javier Mascherano. Enough said. Strong support.

Brazil: Let’s have a look. Marcelo BOOOO Neymar BOOOO Casemiro BOOOO. Oppose… right? Hey what’s this? PAULINHO?? Never mind, never mind. SUPPORT.

Colombia: Surprisingly no Colombian has ever played for Barcelona. James Rodríguez moving to Bayern Munich makes them more likable, but still. It’s James. No thanks… unless Yerry Mina signs.

Peru: They could have knocked Argentina out, probably, but they didn’t. Soooo, thanks.

Uruguay: Two words: Luis Suárez. Support.

UEFA

Belgium: Thomas Vermaelen, but little else. Weak support.

Croatia: Ivan Rakitić, so support. Of course, Luka Modrić is there, but he’s one of Real Madrid’s most likable players.

Denmark: Come on, we all know culés love Christian Eriksen, plus there’s Michael Laudrup to think about.

England: This team is surprisingly light on Chelsea players, so they’re more bearable than the previous versions.

France: Ousmane Dembélé, Lucas Digne, Samuel Umtiti, and maybe soon, Antoine Griezmann. Not to mention historical players like Lillian Thuram, Éric Abidal, and Thierry Henry. We’ll ignore Raphaël Varane. Strong support.

Germany: Marc-André Ter Stegen won’t start, so we’re not going to get excited. Plus they have a Real Madrid player, Toni Kroos. They’re also favorites to take the title from the teams we’re strongly supporting. Going to say oppose.

Iceland: How can we forget Eiður Guðjohnsen? He was Iceland’s best player by a mile back in the day. Plus they’re a fun team.

Poland: We’ll always smile that Robert Lewandowski scored four against Real Madrid. Going to say weak support.

Portugal: Oh come on. Cristiano Ronaldo and Pepe. Sorry André Gomes. Oppose.

Russia: Denis Cheryshev will always brighten our days by accidentally eliminating Real Madrid when he played for them.

Serbia: Predrag Mijatović led this team’s precursor, Yugoslavia, as a Real Madrid player. But he’s actually from Montenegro. Neutral.

Spain: Come on. You can’t oppose the team with Sergio Busquets, Andrés Iniesta, Gerard Piqué, Jordi Alba, Marc Bartra, Gerard Deulofeu, and Pedro.

Sweden: We had two busts when we bought Zlatan Ibrahimović and Patrick Andersson, but on the other hand, Henrik Larsson was a signing that changed the course of history. Neutral.

Switzerland: Joan Gamper was Swiss. So were many of the other founders of the club. You have to support them.

CB Trouble for Barcelona: Javier Mascherano Injured, Gerard Piqué and Samuel Umtiti in Suspension Danger

Will Thomas Vermaelen save the day?

The “FIFA virus” struck Javier Mascherano, who will be out for a month and will miss games against Leganés, Valencia, Celta, and Villarreal in the league, as well as Juventus in the UEFA Champions League and Real Murcia in the Copa del Rey.

Mascherano is expected back for the match against Deportivo La Coruña, one week before El Clásico against Real Madrid. But Ernesto Valverde’s situation is even more complicated as Gerard Piqué and Samuel Umtiti are both one yellow card away from suspension.

Thomas Vermaelen is the team’s fourth centerback but questions about his fitness remain after he has suffered through an injury-plagued last few years.

There is a nightmare scenario in which Vermaelen gets injured and one or both of the starting defenders get suspended.

David Costas, a 22-year-old centerback who plays for Barcelona B, could be receiving call-ups soon. He has experience in La Liga having played with Celta Vigo.

Valverde could also shift Lucas Digne into the middle, or perhaps Sergio Busquets could do a job there in an emergency.

How Valverde manages the defenders in the coming weeks will be important. It would also be a good time for Vermaelen to remain fit for a run of games. If he isn’t, Barcelona’s decision to keep him and shift Marlon Santos out will be called, once again, into question.