Rumors: Martial, Alonso, Fabian wanted, Arthur deal in doubt

Barca, Juve and Bayern battle for Martial

Today’s rumours start in Italy with Tuttosport who reckon that Anthony Martial is definitely leaving Manchester United this summer and Barca, Juve and Bayern all want him.

The Frenchman has failed to force his way into the team on a regular basis and Jose Mourinho is open to offers.

Juventus will push hard for his signature but it looks as though Martial will have his pick of top clubs.

Barcelona change their minds on Arthur?

Over at Mundo Deportivo they report that there is some debate at Barcelona over whether to actually sign Arthur or not.

The club have already paid Gremio €4 million for their option on Arthur and must decide by mid-July whether to spend another €26m to bring him in.

Apparently the club are now having doubts about Arthur because they want a tall, physical player in midfield and feel someone like Frenkie de Jong or Donny van de Beek may be a better bet.

Marcos Alonso to replace Pique?

Barcelona are reportedly considering Marcos Alonso as a possible replacement for Gerard Pique, according to Goal.

The Spain international has had a pretty good time at Chelsea under Antonio Conte, although he’s been mainly used as a wing-back rather than a centre-back.

Pique turns 32 next year although he signed a new deal back in January that will keep him at the club until 2022.

Barcelona step up interest in Fabian

And finally today we end with news that Barcelona have stepped up their interest in Real Betis midfielder Fabian Ruiz.

Mundo Deportivo reckon that Barcelona have been interested for a while but any move may need a few departures first. Andres Iniesta is expected to go to China while Denis Suarez and Andres Gomes could also be off.

Barcelona scouted Fabian in Sunday’s draw with Atletico Madrid and quite like his price tag too. He signed a new deal in January which raised his release clause from €15m to €30m.

Garcia Pimienta replaces Gerard Lopez as Barcelona B boss

Barcelona have confirmed that Francisco Javier Garcia Pimienta will take over from Gerard Lopez as Barcelona B boss.

The club will present Garcia Pimienta this afternoon in a press conference with Jose Mari Bakero and Guillermo Amor.

It’s no surprise to see Lopez leave with Barcelona B currently in the relegation spots in the Segunda División and having lost their last five games in a row.

Garcia Pimienta arrives fresh from guiding Juvenil A to victory in the UEFA League final against Chelsea on Monday and will now try to help Barcelona B beat the drop.

The 43-year-old is pretty highly-rated and obviously knows the academy well. Let’s hope he can do a good job at Barca B and get the best out of the club’s youngsters.

How did Barcelona lose so badly to Roma?

Just when Barcelona were starting to forget about THAT night in Roma, after a brilliant display to win the Copa del Rey, along came Liverpool with a 5-2 thrashing of the Serie A side at Anfield.

It was a completely crazy Champions League semi-final as Liverpool scored five, could probably have had eight, and then somehow allowed Roma to hit two late on to give the Italians a glimmer of hope.

Liverpool were absolutely rampant at times against a Roma team who looked terrified and fell apart dramatically as the goals started flying in.

Liverpool v A.S. Roma - UEFA Champions League Semi Final Leg One
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Sadio Mane missed a couple of brilliant opportunities before Mohamed Salah finally opened the scoring with an absolutely brilliant goal. What an incredible signing he has been for the Reds.

He added a second just before half-time as the Reds fully exploited Roma’s high line. Goals from Sadio Mane and two from Roberto Firmino followed as the Reds ran riot. It was one of the most one-sided Champions League semi-finals you’ve ever seen at that point.

The Liverpool fans were understandably besides themselves with a trip to Kiev looking nailed on, while Barcelona fans could only sit and watch and wonder how on earth their team had lost so abjectly to a Roma side that were being torn apart.

And the confusion is only increased by Barcelona’s superb display at the weekend when they produced their best display of the season to rip Sevilla to bits and lift the Copa del Rey.

Roma deservedly beat Barcelona, let’s not forget that, but were absolutely awful at Anfield. Yet somehow they are not completely out of it. Late goals from Edin Dzeko and Diego Perotti mean that if they win 3-0 at the Stadio Olimpico, like they did against Barca, they will be through to the final.

Di Francesco’s side have not conceded a goal at home in the Champions League but you get the feeling that record may fall next week when Liverpool and the irrepressible Salah come to town. Roma will remain underdogs for the second leg but will hang onto the hope that no-one expected them to beat Barcelona and no-one expects them to beat Liverpool.

AS Roma v FC Barcelona - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Leg Two

Ernesto Valverde copped the flak for the defeat to Roma and he clearly should have changed it when the game started drifting away from Barca. He may have regained some goodwill from winning the Copa del Rey but Liverpool may just have blown that all away again.

For Barcelona though the game just piles on the regret that they can cruise to victory in the Copa del Rey, remain unbeaten in La Liga, but somehow manage to throw away a 4-1 first-leg lead in the competition that means the most.

Is Iniesta the best player never to have won the Ballon d’Or?

In case you hadn’t heard Andres Iniesta received an apology from France Football on Tuesday.

Editor Pascal Ferre wrote a column entitled “Perdon Andres” (Forive us Andres) praising the midfielder and trying to explain why he’d never been awarded the Ballon d’Or.

“For us, [Iniesta] wasn’t just a player, he was the player.

“His generosity, team play and altruism has certainly deprived him of an even more majestic recognition [the Ballon d’Or].

“He has proven that the brain is definitely the most important thing when it comes to being a champion.

“Iniesta is one of the great absences when it comes to Ballon D’or winners. This is painful to us.

”We can only hope that a divine performance at the World Cup helps us to repair this democratic anomaly.”

Source | France Football

The closest Iniesta came to the prize was in 2010 when even scoring the winner in the World Cup final was not enough as he finished second behind Lionel Messi.

He’s not alone though, there are plenty of legends who have never scooped the prestigious award, not least former team-mate Xavi, then there’s Thierry Henry, Paolo Maldini, Frank Rijkaard, Gianluigi Buffon and Diego Maradona too.

Individual awards in a team sport are always pretty contentious things which generate plenty of debate and being the kind of person he is Iniesta probably won’t care. He’s won everything there is to win in a glittering career, but it’s difficult to think of anyone who deserved it more.

Pep trying to tempt Iniesta to City – report

Premier League champion and former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola is reportedly interested in bringing Andrés Iniesta to England in order to bolster the Manchester City midfield.

The rumors have been pointing to an Iniesta exit to China in order to finish out his career and cash a few checks, but the temptation of teaming up with Guardiola one last time might be enough to sway Iniesta’s decision making.

The decision, whatever it may be, is in Iniesta’s hands. Amidst his last contract renegotiation a reportedly key part of the deal was Iniesta’s agreement with the club that his exit would be on his terms and to the team he desired.

Now that it seems that both PSG and Manchester City have both entered the fray for the midfielder, it’ll be interesting to see if they can change Iniesta’s mind.

FC Barcelona News: 24 April 2018

Rafael Nadal praises Andres Iniesta | Sport

Rafael Nadal may be a Real Madrid fan but he took time out to praise Andres Iniesta as he prepares to leave Spain for China. He said: “Iniesta has brought us joy, he’s helped us be happy, enjoy ourselves and he has always behaved with respect, naturalness and normality, which is the most important thing.”

Iniesta, Messi, Sergio and Piqué match the six Copas of Segarra | FC Barcelona

Barcelona’s Copa del Rey win on Saturday was the sixth time Andres Iniesta, Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets and Gerard Pique had lifted the trophy. They draw level with legendary defender Segarra as the players with the most Copa wins in the club’s history.

Hernandez Hernandez will referee El Clasico | Marca

El Clasico is just a couple of weeks away and it’s been confirmed that Alejandro Hernandez Hernandez will referee the match at the Camp Nou. The ref was in charge of last season’s match between the two sides at the Santiago Bernabeu, which Barca won 3-2.

Lieke Martens: ‘Ronaldinho was my idol. Long hair, great dribbles … I loved him’ | The Guardian

Barcelona midfielder Lieke Martens has spoken about how Ronaldinho was her idol growing up. The regining women’s FIFA and UEFA player of the year also says she is hoping to pip Atletico Madrid to the league title in her first season at the Camp Nou.

Ter Stegen congratulates Barcelona youngsters on Uefa Youth League Final win | Sport

Marc-Andre ter Stegen took to Twitter to pass on his congratulations to Barcelona’s youngsters after they won beat Chelsea 3-0 in the Youth League final on Monday. He said: “We start this week how we ended the last, with another trophy! Well done boys, a great achievement for La Masia.”

Messi tops football’s highest earners list

And Gerard Pique does alright too

Lionel Messi is not just the greatest footballer on the planet he’s also the best paid, according to figures released by France Football.

The Argentina has moved ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo and has a gross salary of €126 million, while Gerard Pique also makes the top five. Here’s the list:

  1. Lionel Messi: €126 million
  2. Cristiano Ronaldo: €94 million
  3. Neymar: €81.5 million
  4. Gareth Bale: €44 million
  5. Gerard Pique: €29 million

Source | France Football

The figures are for earnings over the 2017-18 season and apparently do not take into account tax, bonuses and publicity and sponsorship earnings.

Messi’s the first player to break the €100 million mark and while it’s no surprise to see Ronaldo and Neymar next on the list Gerard Pique making the top five is a bit unexpected.

Barcelona starlet Abel Ruiz says contract renewal is close

Abel Ruiz says he wants to stay at Barcelona and is hoping to renew his contract with the club soon after starring in the UEFA Youth League final win over Chelsea.

There has been speculation over his future with clubs such as Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City having been linked with the 18-year-old.

However, Ruiz says his future lies at the Camp Nou and it could all be made official pretty soon.

“We are talking about my renewal and it’s possible that in the next few days it’s sealed, for now I don’t see myself anywhere else but Barcelona,” he said.

Source | Sport

Ruiz is a pretty exciting talent, he has starred for Spain’s Under-17 side and let’s hope he can step up and make the grade at Barcelona.

Barcelona Want to Renew Munir El Haddadi’s Contract

The player has made a huge impression on loan

Munir El Haddadi is enjoying a breakout season on loan at Deportivo Alavés, and FC Barcelona is fully aware of it. In a new report from Diario SPORT, we are told that Barça want to renew the forward, for at least one more year, in order to maximize the profit from his sale.

They reckon he’ll continue improving next season and continue to drive up his price, but it’s not known if Munir will agree to this deal or try to leave as soon as possible to a team where he has a permanent future in.

Munir has nine goals and six assists this season, making him first in both categories for 13th-placed Alavés. The 22-year-old spent last season on loan at Valencia.

Barcelona have Luis Suárez and Paco Alcácer in the forward spots, and with Antoine Griezmann possibly coming in from Atlético Madrid during the summer, there may be no place for Munir.

Barcelona beat Chelsea to win 2018 UEFA Youth League Final

The kids are alright

Barcelona won their first Youth League final since 2014 on Monday as they Chelsea 3-0 in a comfortable victory over the Blues in Nyon.

The opening goal was pretty special as Barcelona played it out from the back before finding Abel Ruiz who teed up Alejandro Marques to head home just past the half hour mark.

Check the goal out below:

Marques grabbed his second of the game just after half-time. He stole possession from Marc Guehi before keeping his composure to fire home.

Ruiz then secured the win late on as he rifled home Barcelona’s third of the game to complete the win.

It’s been a pretty good few days for Barcelona so far. The Copa del Rey on Saturday, the 2018 UEFA Youth League on Monday and potentially La Liga at the weekend.