Barcelona to Give Dortmund Huge Payout if They Sell Dembele

La Liga giants Barcelona will be forced to pay Borussia Dortmund an additional £26m if they decide to cash in on their out-of-favour winger Ousmane Dembélé.

The France international swapped Signal Iduna Park for the Camp Nou last year in a £96m transfer, with a further £35m in potential add-ons.

Barcelona have already paid £9m of the add-ons for Dembélé, but German outlet Die Welt (via the Mirror) claim that they will be made to pay the remaining £26m if the 21-year-old is sold in the near future.

Dembélé has a contract in Catalonia until 2022, so any sale would see Barcelona increase their already high asking price to accommodate whatever they still have left to pay Borussia Dortmund.

Barça's reasoning behind considering letting one of their most expensive ever signings - second only to Philippe Coutinho - leave is largely ​down to the player's attitude, something which often landed himself in hot water with Dortmund's hierarchy too.

 

 

There have also been claims that, as well as problems with punctuality and even rumours of a possible video game addiction, Dembélé still hasn't integrated himself into the squad and has so far failed to fall into any specific friendship group at the club, despite Barcelona's high number of French players.

If Barcelona do decide to sell then they will not be short of suitors, although many clubs across Europe will be put off by Dembélé's expected asking price which will likely break the £100m barrier once again.

 

 

Both Arsenal and Liverpool have been heavily linked with a move for the World Cup-winning forward, but Jürgen Klopp's side could have the inside track due to his personal relationship with Dembélé.

The youngster was renting a property from Klopp during his time at Borussia Dortmund, although things didn't end on good terms when Dembélé moved to Barcelona as he left the property trashed while he was forcing through the transfer.

Arsenal do, however, have a fighting chance when it comes to convincing Dembélé of a move thanks to their contingent of his former teammates, most notably including ​Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Source: 90min.com

Barcelona's Deulofeu completes Watford move

Watford have confirmed the signing of winger Gerard Deulofeu on a five-year deal from Barcelona.

The Spanish champions say they have agreed a fee of £11.5m for the 24-year-old, plus £3.5m in add-ons.

Deulofeu, who has won four caps for Spain, spent the second half of last season on loan at Watford, scoring once in seven Premier League appearances.

The ex-Barcelona youth player has previously had two spells in the Premier League with Everton.

He spent the 2013-14 campaign on loan at Goodison Park and returned on a permanent basis in 2015 after an unsuccessful spell at Sevilla.

Following 18 months with the Toffees, Deulofeu finished the 2016-17 season on loan with AC Milan, then went back to Barcelona last summer when the Catalans activated a buy-back clause.

The deal with Barcelona also includes a sell-on clause, according to the Spanish club.

"We are very pleased to welcome Gerard back," said Watford chairman Scott Duxbury. "Our ambition to succeed and grow in the Premier League remains as strong as ever."

Deulofeu's most recent international appearance came in Spain's World Cup qualifier against Liechtenstein in September.

Source: BBC NEWS

Man City many years from Barcelona level - Guardiola

Pep Guardiola says Manchester City are "many years" away from being at the same level of former club Barcelona.

He won his first trophy as City boss in the Carabao Cup, and they are four wins away from the Premier League title.

City have one foot in the Champions League quarter-finals, holding a 4-0 advantage before Wednesday's last-16 second leg at home to Basel.

"To think about joining these kinds of teams [like Barcelona], you have to be there a long time," Guardiola said.

"We won one title but it is not good for us comparing with that team. They dominated the last decade - 15-20 years with different managers, different players. Every season they won a lot of things."

During his time with Barcelona between 2008 and 2012, Guardiola won 14 trophies, including three La Liga titles and two Champions League successes.

City are still likely to be without midfielder Fernandinho and forward Raheem Sterling for the return leg against Swiss team Basel at Etihad Stadium.

The pair are only just back in training after hamstring injuries but could be back in contention for Monday's Premier League trip to Stoke.

Fabian Delph could return at left-back against Basel, having served a three-game domestic suspension.

"We start again from zero. We have to be focused not to make a mistake - just be focused on what we have to do, offensively and defensively, to control the game and go through. That is the target," Guardiola said.

"Champions League games are something special and you have to be focused. Of course we are delighted with the result we have done [in the first leg] but in football everything can happen."

City have only progressed past the round of 16 once in their last six consecutive Champions League appearances, eventually losing to Real Madrid in the 2015-16 semi-finals.

Match Stats

Source: BBC NEWS

Atletico Madrid report Barcelona to FIFA over Antoine Griezmann

Diego Simeone says he won't stop Antoine Griezmann leaving Atletico Madrid should an opportunity at another club arise.

Atletico Madrid have reported Barcelona to FIFA for making an illegal approach for Antoine Griezmann.

Barca's director of institutional relations, Guillermo Amor, said over the weekend that it was "possible" president Josep Maria Bartomeu had held talks with Griezmann's family.

In line with FIFA's rules, clubs that wish to sign a player must first communicate that desire to the player's club before they can then begin to negotiate with the player if given the green light.

The club and FIFA both confirmed the news to ESPN FC and a spokesperson for Atletico told Mundo Deportivo on Tuesday: "Atletico Madrid have reported Barcelona for repeated contact with Griezmann and his people, contact which we are aware of. He is a player with a contract with Atletico Madrid and a long contract at that."

Unbeaten Atletico are currently second in the table, six points behind leaders Barcelona, and Marca reported that they feel that the Catalan club's interest in Griezmann, as real as it may be, is also a destabilising tactic.

The action comes after Amor was asked about Barca's desire to sign the France international on Sunday following a Mundo Deportivo report that Bartomeu had held a meeting with the forward's family.

"If that's what [Mundo Deportivo] said, it's possible..." Amor told Movistar+. "Maybe there's been a meeting and things have advanced, although I don't know. There's a good understanding, maybe there have been talks.

"Rumours are inevitable in football. In the case of Griezmann, there are a lot of players we could be talking with, initiating some kind of relationship with if there's an opportunity.

"We're obliged to have contact with players. It's something which is done."

If found guilty, Barcelona risk being banned from signing players for the second time in the last five years.

The club were handed a one-year transfer ban by FIFA, which encompassed two transfer windows and was served in 2015, due to the illegal recruitment of foreign minors.

Griezmann, 26, looked set to move to Manchester United last summer, but performed a U-turn at the last minute.

After Atletico had their appeal for their transfer ban to be overturned rejected, he signed a new deal at the Wanda Metropolitano, saying it would have been "dirty" to leave the club at that moment.

However, he has remained the focus of transfer stories, with his release clause having remained at €100 million when he signed the new terms.

Diego Simeone said recently that he would not stand in Griezmann's way if an "unique opportunity" came along, prompting suggestions that he will leave at the end of the current campaign.

Griezmann apologised on Sunday after sparking a Twitter backlash by posting a picture of himself dressed as a black basketball player.

Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.

Source: http://www.espnfc.com/story/3317300/atletico-madrid-report-barcelona-to-fifa-over-antoine-griezmann

Javier Mascherano wants River Plate return, doesn't want to make promises

Barcelona's Javier Mascherano wants to return to River Plate before his playing days are over but is wary of making a promise he cannot keep.

Mascherano has already said he will retire from international football with Argentina after next year's World Cup and, after two summers of uncertainty, he may finally decide to leave Barcelona at the end of the current campaign, too, despite having a contract at the Camp Nou until 2019.

The 33-year-old began his career with River, before moving to Corinthians, West Ham, Liverpool and Barca, and says he still has unfinished business with the Buenos Aires club.

"I still feel there's a chapter in my career to be dedicated to River," the Argentina international told TNT Sports ahead of Saturday's friendly against Russia.

"The problem is, speaking about River, I don't want to be a prisoner of my own words. I don't want to be saying I'll be back in December or June and then if it doesn't happen, what do I do? Was I lying?

"But, in my head, I always have the idea that I will go back one day. I speak regularly with [River president Rodolfo] D'Onofrio but, honestly, it's been a year since we spoke about going back. But we'll keep in touch because we have a good relationship."

Mascherano told ESPN FC in the summer that he is also considering playing in Major League Soccer, while he should not be short of offers to continue in Europe, either, if he does leave Barcelona next year.

Javier Mascherano is currently sidelined through injury.

Javier Mascherano began his career with River Plate.

However, whatever move he decides to make, Mascherano is adamant that it will not be influenced by money.

"It has nothing to do [with money] like I've read," he added. "I made my own decisions when I was in my 20s but now they're made on a family level. I have kids and they also have to be considered. It's not an excuse, but I have my reasons. Right now, I have no idea what I am going to do. I have no idea what I'm going to do in January."

That said, it is unlikely Mascherano will leave Barca halfway through the season having re-emerged as a key player under Ernesto Valverde, starting four of the last six La Liga matches as the Catalan side have chalked up a 16-game unbeaten run.

Despite that unbeaten streak, Valverde's side have still been criticised for their performances, and midfielder Sergio Busquets says they have not been at their attacking best this season.

"We're on a really good run," Busquets told Radio Marca. "We're not playing brilliantly, but we're solid and compact. It's difficult to score against us and we're really happy.

"We do realise we have not played brilliantly, though. An important player left [Neymar], we've changed the system... That gives you some things and takes away other things. But the important thing is to be compact, that's how you build a winning team."

Source: http://www.espnfc.com/story/3264025/javier-mascherano-wants-river-plate-return-doesnt-want-to-make-any-promises

Messi scores his 100th European goal, Pique sent off as Barca cruise

Barcelona strolled to within striking distance of the last 16 of the Champions League by easily beating a woefully mismatched Olympiakos 3-1 even after having Gerard Pique sent off before the end of the first half.

Lionel Messi's 100th goal in European competitions, a trademark curling free kick, got the biggest cheer on a flat night at Camp Nou conditioned by the torrential rain in the Catalan capital and opponents who barely showed up.

Barca benefitted from an own goal for the fifth time this season as they took the lead when 19-year-old visiting defender Dimitris Nikolaou diverted Gerard Deulofeu's cross into his own net.

Lucas Digne struck his first Champions League goal for the club to stretch Barca's lead, while Nikolaou had the final say by scoring a consolation goal for the hapless visitors.

Positives

Barca are on the brink of the latter stages of the competition and barely had to break stride here. Digne looked confident and for the first time in a while and took advantage of his place in the starting lineup, while another record for Messi can do the free-scoring Argentine no harm.

Negatives

Barca lost their perfect defensive record in Europe when Nikolaou struck late, while Pique's lacklustre displays are a cause for concern. The Spain international is suspended for the return game in Athens, but on this evidence, Olympiakos are still unlikely to trouble Barca without him.

Manager rating out of 10

7 -- Ernesto Valverde showed little mercy toward his beloved former club, only resting Ivan Rakitic and Nelson Semedo, with Jordi Alba forced out with injury. He switched formation from the 4-4-2 he has used recently to give Deulofeu an opportunity, although his hands were tied by Pique's untimely red card, and he naturally prioritised plugging the hole in defence, to the misfortune of the former Everton forward.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Marc-Andre ter Stegen, 6 -- Was a passenger for most of the game as the shy visitors offered almost no threat in attack, and there was little he could do about Nikolaou's bullet header at the end.

DF Sergi Roberto, 6 -- Linked up well with Deulofeu down the right-hand side in the first half but was forced to be more conservative in the second half with his team down to 10 men.

DF Gerard Pique, 3 -- His clumsy display got him sent off for the fifth time in his career, the first in the Champions League and for the first time in five seasons. He angrily protested referee Willie Collum giving him a second yellow card for slapping the ball into the net, but really, there was little case for his defence. Fortunately for Barca, Olympiakos were in no position to take advantage despite having the entire second half with an extra man.

DF Samuel Umtiti, 7 -- As calm in possession as ever, and he was easily able to snuff out any whiff of danger on the very rare occasion the Greeks came forward.

DF Lucas Digne, 7 -- Made only his second start of the season but looked far more confident than usual, perhaps lifted by playing 180 minutes earlier in the month with France. Took his goal superbly with a thumping low finish.

MF Paulinho, 7 -- The Brazilian talked before the game of his joy at working his socks off for the benefit of Messi, and he could certainly not be accused of conserving energy tonight, although he should have done better with his header which struck the bar.

Messi celeb 100th Barca goal 171018

Lionel Messi's free kick gave him 100 European goals, making him the first to score a century in Europe with one club.

MF Sergio Busquets, 7 -- Exerted his usual control, which was barely under threat even with 10 men.

MF Andres Iniesta, 7 -- Barely had to go beyond walking pace due to the weakness of the opposition but still dictated the pace of the game.

FW Gerard Deulofeu, 7 -- Made his first start in a month and was one of Barca's liveliest players in the first half, putting in a remarkable 11 crosses, more than the record by any Barca player over 90 minutes. One of those crosses was too much for Nikolaou, but despite helping break the deadlock, the Catalan was the first to be sacrificed after Pique had been sent off.

FW Luis Suarez, 5 -- His crucial late equaliser at Atletico unfortunately didn't have the desired effect on his confidence, and he still lacked sharpness, although he made up for it in effort and battling for every ball.

FW Lionel Messi, 7 -- The Argentine reached another milestone in racking up 100 European goals, but the flatness of the occasion meant he didn't need to raise his game. Still, he got a dormant crowd to their feet with his awesome free kick and delighted them again by dancing his way through the visiting defence to tee up Digne.

Substitutes

DF Javier Mascherano (for Pique), 6 -- Would not have expected to play 45 minutes after starting on the bench but had a very comfortable evening.

MF Ivan Rakitic (for Iniesta), 6 -- Played in a deeper role than usual as Barca took their foot off the gas when he came on after Digne had put the result beyond doubt.

MF Andre Gomes (for Busquets), NR -- The Portuguese was one of the most criticized players against Atletico but had a far easier ride here as he helped see out a game that was already settled.

Source: http://www.espnfc.com/club/barcelona/83/blog/post/3234771/lionel-messi-scores-his-100th-european-goal-gerard-pique-sent-off-as-barcelona-cruise

Barcelona and Man City Set to Compete for Signature of Coveted Borussia Dortmund Star

​Barcelona and Manchester City have been tipped to go head to head in pursuit of talented Borussia Dortmund midfielder Julian Weigl, which may come as no surprise given that he is a player media reports have dubbed the 'new Sergio Busquets'.

According to AS, Barcelona intend to strengthen the base of their midfield and see 22-year-old Weigl as the perfect fit to ensure that Busquets can be rested and the team not suffer. In that sense, he would offer better relief than Andre Gomes or Sergi Roberto.

Barça are said to have been following the German international since last season and that there is excitement at Camp Nou because few others around Europe are seen to have his degree of fluency on the field.

But the Catalan giants are expected to face stiff competition from a former son in Pep Guardiola, who has apparently urged Manchester City director of football Txiki Begiristain, another former Barça hero, to bid for Weigl at the Etihad Stadium.

Guardiola, AS declares, is 'in love' with Weigl as a player and wants him in Manchester.

It is also noted that while Barça can rival any club in the world when it comes to offering an attractive place to play football, they cannot compete with City on a financial level.

Were a move to City to materialise, Weigl would strengthen the existing central midfield unit of Fernandinho and Ilkay Gundogan. It would given Kevin de Bruyne a freer role, and would likely coincide with the departure of veteran star Yaya Toure, who will turn 35 years of age in May.

Source: 90min.com

The Catalan independence referendum and what it means for Catalan clubs

On Sunday evening, the Catalan president Carles Puigdemont was interviewed by Jordi Évole as part of a Spanish investigative journalism show called Salvados. At the end of what was often a fairly tense hour of questions about the upcoming Catalan independence referendum, the conversation shifted to football.

“What do you think the score will be between Barça and Girona tomorrow?” Asked Evole. (The interview was filmed last Friday before the game.)

Puigdemont, a native of Girona, appeared somewhat worn out by the final ten minutes of the interview. He laughed nervously for a few seconds, before deciding not to predict the score.

“I try not to predict the future.” He said.

Football and politics

In Catalonia right now, there are lots of people trying to predict the future. Specifically what will happen this Sunday, 1st October. Will the vote on independence take place? Will the government in Madrid forcibly stop it from taking place? And if it does take place and there is a majority for si, what then? Will there then be a new country in Europe next week?

It might seem trivial to mix politics with football, but the truth is that such practice is commonplace in Spain. If you go to watch Barça play at Camp Nou, it’s hard to escape the politics. In recent years, especially in big games such as the one against Juventus a couple of weeks ago, huge banners are often displayed for the TV cameras. “Catalonia is not Spain.” “Welcome to the Republic of Catalonia.” These are the kind of messages on display.

And in each half of every game, when the clock ticks past 17 minutes and 14 seconds, a cry erupts around the steep stands of the stadium calling for independence. Everywhere you look at that time there is a sea of Catalan flags. Why the 17th minute and the 14th second? 1714 was the year that Barcelona fell in the War of the Spanish Succession and Catalonia lost its autonomy. So yes – politics and football tend to go hand-in-hand in Spain.

A protest in tweets

And the tension has been building. On Wednesday 20th September, the Guardia Civil arrested 12 senior Catalan Government officials and confiscated papers with a view to impede the referendum planned for this Sunday. That evening tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Barcelona to protest against the arrests.

There were also official denouncements from institutions in Barcelona. Primavera Sound, the famous music festival held every year in the city in June tweeted their disapproval of the actions of the Spanish government.

So did Barça.

In an official club statement, the club said they were supporting democracy and the freedom of expression. The implication being that the Spanish government had infringed on both. Girona FC made a pretty similar statement via Twitter.

The fact that Espanyol’s Twitter feed that day was focused more on commemorating their old stadium in Sarrià didn’t go unnoticed. It led to familiar accusations about the club being “less Catalan” than Barça, which is a bit of a generalisation.

La Lliga Catalana?

The fact that there are now three teams in La Liga from Catalonia was something that was celebrated before the season began. Compared to the Basque Country, it has been somewhat under-represented given the influence of the region. But is there a chance that after Sunday the Catalan teams will be getting to know each other a lot more? Could it be that if Catalonia gains its independence, the Catalan teams will no longer be allowed to play in La Liga?

Around the time of the last referendum (albeit a non-binding one) in Catalonia nearly three years ago, Sid Lowe wrote about the possibility of it happening for The Guardian. Not much has changed since his analysis. The league only allows for non-Spanish teams from Andorra to compete. No other state. But could that law be changed?

One thing is for sure – as Lowe mentions in his piece – if there were to be repercussions after independence in terms of the Spanish teams being kicked out, the size of Barça means they would undoubtedly cope better than Espanyol or Girona.

Renewed hostility

The other consideration is the amount of hostility that the Catalan teams (but mainly Barça) will receive on their travels in the wake of the referendum on Sunday. Whatever the result. The club is already often on the receiving end of hundreds of Spanish flags being waved in their direction and chants about Barcelona being part of Spain whether they like it or not.

A lot of people in the rest of Spain are hurt at the Catalans attempting to leave. This was demonstrated by the people lining the streets in Andalusia to wave off policemen heading to Catalonia to try to stop the vote from taking place. Even if the vote doesn’t take place or the result isn’t for independence, the ill feeling is sure to intensify.

Until Sunday, it’s hard to imagine what is going to happen. By the time Barça kick-off against Las Palmas at 4.15pm at Camp Nou, we’ll have a much better idea. At least we’ll know whether people have been allowed to vote or not. If they haven’t, then the chants for independence on the 17th minute and the 14th second are unlikely to stop.

They’ll just get louder.

Source: La Liga News

Gaku Shibasaki facing six weeks out injured

Getafe midfielder Gaku Shibasaki is facing six weeks out injured after hurting his foot during the league defeat to Barcelona on Saturday.

The home side may have lost the game 2-1 to the current La Liga table toppers, but Shibasaki’s superb first half effort was much talked about.

The Japanese international arrived at the Madrid based club this summer after spending time with Kashima Antlers and enjoying a six month loan spell with Tenerife.

The 25-year-old became the first player from Japan to score against both Barca and Real Madrid on Saturday but was forced off due to injury just before the hour mark.

And, tests have now confirmed that he will miss six weeks of action.

Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele was also injured in the game, which has led both boss Ernesto Valverde and keeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen to bemoan the state of the pitch at Coliseum Alfonso Perez.

However, Getafe president Angel Torres has hit back at that criticism, saying the pitch was in ‘perfect condition’.

“Our pitch was in perfect condition and was in line with the parameters of which La Liga demands,” Torres told Onda Cero on Monday night.

“People have complained about our pitch but there is no justification for these words – the league has even congratulated us on the state of our pitch!

“The measurement of the grass? Ours was 29mm and the league stipulates the grass must be between 20-30mm so we were within that range.

“Barcelona’s Coach was right in saying there was nothing else to say about the pitch, of course we are sad Dembele got injured and we wish him a quick recovery to action.”

Getafe face Celta Vigo on Thursday night at the Balaidos as they seek to get their second win of the new season, whilst Barcelona host Eibar at the Camp Nou on Tuesday evening, looking to make it five wins out of five games.

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Source: La Liga News

Valverde heaps praise on Messi after Juventus heroics

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has heaped praise on Lionel Messi after his performance against Juventus on Tuesday night.

The Argentine has started the season in superb form for the Catalan side, scoring an impressive five goals in three La Liga games and he added to that tally after netting two more against Italian champions Juve at the Camp Nou.

Messi now has seven goals in four games and his boss Valverde has discussed how he is enjoying watching the former Ballon d’Or winner perform.

“You always think when he gets the ball that only good things can happen for the team. I suffered a lot when I had to face him and now I’m enjoying him. He was heavily involved in everything,” he told reporters after Tuesday’s game.

Barca’s victory now sees them having won four out of four competitive matches this season without conceding a goal and Valverde heaped praise in his team collectively.

“We played against one of last season’s finalists, we kept a clean sheet and we scored three goals. It was vital to get off to a winning start in the group stage, ” he is quoted in telling Spanish daily AS.

Further to his comments, Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri, who side lost to Real Madrid in last year’s final – admitted his side could do nothing about Messi and Barca’s dominance.

He said: “He shot three times and scored two goals and hit the post.

“If you give him space he’s unstoppable. If we don’t give him any space then we can limit what he can do.”

The former AC Milan boss did remain calm about the result, however, and said his side need to be stronger both mentally and physically.

“I don’t think we’re going to have a problem. When we play against teams of this level we cannot allow ourselves to switch off. That’s the difference.

“When they have the ball close to goal they are very dangerous. We have to improve and be more solid mentally.”

 

Source: La Liga News