'You need to change your name to Reymar' Kaka's advice to
former World Player of the Year believes his fellow
Brazilian needs a name change if he is to follow in the
footsteps of illustrious countrymen
Barcelona forward Neymar has been told to
consider adding a letter ‘R’ to the start of his name in
an effort to earn the honor of being considered the best
player on the planet.
The bizarre, but tongue-in-cheek, suggestion has been
offered by fellow Brazilian and former World Player of
the Year, Kaka.
The ex-Milan and Real Madrid playmaker had no problem
seeing his talents recognized without following his own
advice, although his full name is Ricardo Izecson dos
Maybe, then, there is something in names beginning with
‘R’ when it comes to Brazilian greats.
Down the years the likes of Romario, Ronaldo, Rivelino,
Rivaldo and Ronaldinho have all graced the very top of
If Neymar is to do likewise, he has been made aware of
what he needs to do.
Kaka told Record TV: “With everything that he’s done at
Barcelona, Neymar could well be next in line to be the
best player in the world.
“But I think if he changed his name to ‘Reymar’, he’d
have an even better chance. All the successful
Brazilians begin with the letter ‘R’.”
While discussing a potential heir to his former throne,
Kaka has also discussed his international future.
Now 34 years of age and turning out in MLS for Orlando
City, the World Cup winner has not figured for his
country since May 2016.
Kaka, who has 92 caps to his name, said: "My
relationship with the national team has always been
"Now, at my age, it'd be a mutual agreement if it were
good for me and the team."
Rakitic: Barca comeback was like Patriots' Super Bowl win
a sensational late win over PSG to reach the Champions
League quarter-finals, Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic was
reminded of Super Bowl LI.
Ivan Rakitic compared Barcelona's "crazy"
Champions League comeback against Paris Saint-Germain to
the New England Patriots' Super Bowl LI triumph after a
historic night at Camp Nou.
Barca had trailed PSG 4-0 after the first leg in France,
but an incredible 6-1 win at home - where Sergi Roberto
scored a decisive 95th-minute goal - improbably sent
Luis Enrique's side through.
Barca performs greatest comeback in history
And Rakitic, still struggling to believe the events of
the final moments, was reminded of another stunning
sporting fightback of 2017 as the Patriots overturned a
28-3 deficit to beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in
"No, I cannot believe it," he told BT Sport. "It was
really impossible. [Now] 15-20 minutes after the game,
it is crazy and unbelievable.
"Thank you to the team, to the people around the club
and the fans. It was a really special day and it is hard
to say something.
"The first game in Paris was hard for us, a lot of
people spoke hard with our team but the reaction was
special. It is history. We want to keep going on.
"We had to believe [because] 4-0 was hard, but it is
football. We saw it in the Super Bowl, what is possible
in sport. Today was crazy.
"This is Barcelona, the best team in the world and we
want to continue our dream in the Champions League."
Ibrahimovic sets new Premier League record
Red Devils striker has reached a landmark for Jose
Mourinho's side against Leicester City, becoming the
oldest player to score 15 goals
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has set a new Premier League record,
becoming the oldest player to reach 15 goals in a single
The former Sweden international joined Manchester
United from PSG in the summer, and has made an instant
impact at Old Trafford, netting 15 goals in 24
appearances for Jose Mourinho's side.
On Sunday, he scored United's second against Leicester
City, taking him to 15 goals at 35 years and 125 days
Ibrahimovic swept home from inside the area after good
work from Antonio Valencia found him in the area,
putting the ball through the legs of Wes Morgan and into
the Foxes net.
Ibrahimovic swept home from inside the area after good
work from Antonio Valencia found him in the area,
putting the ball through the legs of Wes Morgan and into
the Foxes net.
The former Barcelona man also made Premier League
history earlier in the season, netting the competition's
25,000th goal with his strike against Swansea.
Ibrahimovic now as at least 15 league goals in his last
six seasons, stretching back to his time at AC Milan.
Since 2006 he has only failed to reach that landmark
once, and at 35 years old he shows no sign of stopping.
Counting all competitions, the forward has also now
scored 20 goals in 10 consecutive seasons. Way back in
2006-07 when he was with Inter Milan, he fell short of
that target, but still scored 15 times.
In addition to those, Ibrahimovic has reached 15 Premier
League goals for United in the fourth fastest number of
games (23), following Ruud van Nistelrooy (19), Dwight
Yorke (20) and Robin van Persie (21).
Mourinho demands better from Man Utd fans ahead of Liverpool
Red Devils are in good shape to book their place in the
EFL Cup final, but the Portuguese manager is not
impressed by his side's own fans
Jose Mourinho has demanded a better Old Trafford
atmosphere when Manchester United play Liverpool after
Hull City were despatched amid eerie EFL Cup acoustics.
Goals from Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini saw off a
patchwork Hull side on Tuesday as United put one foot in
another Wembley final.
A ninth win in succession was met with a lukewarm
response through much of the contest from the home fans,
despite Mourinho's gesturing for the volume to be raised
And with Liverpool arriving at Old Trafford on Sunday in
a fixture between sides separated by five points in the
Premier League table, Mourinho wants the crowd to fire
"I was disappointed yes, [Hull] were very well organised
defensively as I was expecting and it was not easy for
us," Mourinho told Sky Sports.
"But I think we were a bit sloppy, complicating things,
always one more touch, delaying the decision, giving
them time to regroup and it was not our best first half.
"I think in the first half the players have to do
better, I have to do better, the fans can also do
"Second half we all improve just a little bit. The game
is over, now I think about Sunday and on Sunday I have
to do better, the players need to do better and the
stadium has to do better."
Hull played with midfield pair David Meyler and Tom
Huddlestone in defence as injuries bite hard at the
start of Marco Silva's reign, but Mourinho did not
anticipate his compatriot rolling over.
"I was expecting a difficult match," he said.
"I wasn't expecting four or five, 1-0 for me would
always be a good result but 2-0 is obviously better.
"We are not at Wembley but the second goal is maybe an
Cuper: Ronaldo not good enough to win FIFA Player of the Year
Portugal star is widely tipped to add the revived award
to the Ballon d'Or lifted in December, but Egypt's coach
is convinced his compatriot is more deserving
Hector Cuper has revealed he voted for Lionel Messi as
the FIFA Player of the Year, as he feels Cristiano
Ronaldo's performances do not merit the award.
The Barcelona star finished 2016 as the year's
top scorer with 51 goals, as he helped the Catalans to
their second successive Liga and Copa del Rey double.
Ronaldo, meanwhile, got his hands on the Champions
League title for Real Madrid and led Portugal to their
first-ever international title with Euro 2016 success.
The striker, however, was not a decisive presence in
either final, and Cuper believes Messi's superior
displays mean he deserves the award.
"He's the best player I saw in the last year. We're
speaking about the whole performance. He gave everything
to lead Barcelona to the domestic double.
"That also applies for Argentina where he did everything
possible to win the Copa America, but he wasn't lucky."
The former Inter and Valencia coach added that, while
Ronaldo's titles may lead him to the award, he was
outplayed by his great rivals.
"Ronaldo won titles also, but I don't think his
performances were good enough to be the player of the
year," he said.
"Performance won't be in his favour, it's just the
titles that would help him to be in the nominations. You
can say I chose Messi for several reasons, not just
because he's Argentine."
Cuper will lead Egypt into the 2017 African Cup of
Nations in January, having steered the country back into
the prestigious tournament after missing three
Guardiola: I am nearing the end of my coaching career
being widely regarded as one of the greatest coaches in
football, the ex-Barcelona and Bayern Munich man
believes he could walk away from the bench soon
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola feels he is already
nearing the end of his coaching career.
Guardiola, 45, has a three-year contract at the
Etihad Stadium but does not envision continuing in the
same capacity far beyond that.
Pep silent on Fernandinho red
Widely regarded as one of the greatest coaches of all
time, the Spaniard has won 22 trophies since starting
out at Barcelona B in 2007.
The Spaniard led Barca's first team to a historic treble
in 2008-09 and won three successive Bundesliga titles in
as many years at Bayern Munich.
But, despite being in the early stages of his time at
City, Guardiola says he is already winding down his
"I will be at Manchester for the next three seasons,
maybe more, but I am arriving at the end of my coaching
career, of this I am sure," he told NBC Sports, prior to
City's 2-1 Premier League win over Burnley on Monday.
"I will not be on the bench until I am 60 or 65 years
old. I feel that the process of my goodbye has already
Messi on another level to Ronaldo - Guardiola
Portuguese might have picked up his fourth Ballon d'Or,
but the Manchester City boss believes his former protege
still remains a cut above
Pep Guardiola was unequivocal in his view of who is the
best footballer in the world, the Manchester City
manager having no doubt that Lionel Messi still reigns
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo pipped Messi to
the Ballon d'Or last week, leaving him one behind his
Barca rival in terms of his career tally in football's
most coveted individual award.
The numbers lie 5-4 in Messi's favour after Ronaldo was
rewarded for helping Madrid and Portugal to respective
Champions League and Euro 2016 glory this year.
Messi put forward a dazzling counter-argument last
weekend with a sublime display as Barca dispatched
neighbours Espanyol 4-0 in La Liga and his coach Luis
Enrique spoke disparagingly of the awards race on
Friday, decrying an obsession with "golden melons".
Guardiola fell short of his Camp Nou successor's vitriol
when addressing a news conference ahead of the Premier
League trip to Hull City, but he is still an
unquestioning advocate of Messi's superiority.
"I agree with Luis. Messi is the best, he is definitely
the best," he told reporters.
"He knows how to play, score and make the other players
play. He is always there.
"With all the respect to all the players, first to
Cristiano Ronaldo – congratulations to him for the award
– I think Messi is on another level."
Luis Enrique casts doubt on Barcelona future
former Celta Vigo boss's contract at Camp Nou runs out
at the end of the current season and he admitted there
are a number of negatives to managing the Blaugrana
Barcelona head coach Luis Enrique refused to offer any
assurances over his future at the Liga champions beyond
the 2016-17 campaign.
Liga-winning boss Luis Enrique is out of contract
at the end of the season and the Spaniard appears no
closer to signing an extension.
Luis Enrique has guided Barca to Liga and Copa del Rey
doubles in each of his two seasons in charge, as well as
the 2014-15 Champions League, and while the 46-year-old
is happy at Camp Nou, there is a lot to consider before
"I have no doubt that I'm at the best team, with the
best club, with the best players, in my house and with
my family, winning things and being very involved," Luis
Enrique told Barca TV.
"But there is also one thing about this job that is very
hard, it costs me a lot and it's a negative that I have
to factor in when considering the next few seasons."
"I am aware that I am either here [with Barcelona] or
nowhere. I have time and the club will stand by me."
Barca are second in the table, three points adrift of
leaders and bitter rivals Real Madrid heading into the
Vitolo hails 'best player in history' Messi after Barcelona
Argentine scored one and set up another to lead his side
past Jorge Sampaoli's men, and the scorer of Sevilla's
only goal had nothing but praise for him after the game
Sevilla forward Vitolo lauded Lionel Messi as the best
player ever to take to a football pitch after the
Argentine's magic helped unravel the Andalucians on
Vitolo had fired Sevilla into an early lead
against Barcelona but Messi hit back by netting the
equaliser and setting up Luis Suarez to seal three
points on the road.
Messi dazzles in Barca victory
And the winger was gracious in defeat, acknowledging
that Messi was on another level in a crucial Liga clash.
"Messi was no surprise, he is the best player in history
and he knows how to run a game," Vitolo told reporters
after the final whistle.
"In the first half we pressured him well but in the
second he made the difference."
Despite the narrow defeat the player also had warm words
for coach Jorge Sampaoli, who he credited with always
seeking victory no matter the opponent since taking over
"Adapting to his ideas was only a matter of time. He
wants to dominate games regardless of the opponent," he
"La Liga is very tight, the teams at the top are winning
games. It will be tough, we hadn't lost at home until
People are losing their mind over Cristiano Ronaldo's glasses
were made on Twitter about how the Real Madrid star's
need for glasses might explain his free kick success
Cristiano Ronaldo signed his new Real Madrid contract to
great fanfare on Monday, pledging himself to his club
until June 2021.
Real Madrid fans were quick to congratulate the
forward, 31, for bagging a fresh deal at the Santiago
Bernabeu a few months after he scored the winning
penalty in their Champions League final victory.
But not everyone was so kind - some were quick to make
jokes about Ronaldo's glasses and ponder whether that
might help explain his shoddy free kick success rate
Cantona: Messi has become a poor man's Justin Bieber
outspoken former Manchester United forward has
questioned the choices made by the Barcelona talisman
regarding his appearance, likening him to the lead
singer of a boy band
Eric Cantona can always be relied upon to pass
judgement on the big issues in football.
Yes, he has become distracted by seagulls and trawlers
in the past, but you get the gist of what he is trying
to say...don’t you?
Well, the latest subject to get the Cantona treatment is
the one and only Lionel Messi.
'Messi should always win Ballon d'Or'
The Barcelona forward may not be able to match eternal
rival Cristiano Ronaldo in the style stakes, but he has
been experimenting somewhat with his look of late.
Peroxide blond hair, a hipster beard and sleeve tattoo,
the mercurial Argentine has deserted his clean-cut image
There will be many who prefer the more rugged Messi to
the boy-next-door persona of his past, but Manchester
United icon Cantona is not one of them!
“What is up with Lionel Messi?” he said in his role as
Eurosport’s self-appointed ‘Commissioner of Football’.
Where would Barca be without Messi?
“Bleach blond hair, red beard? Did he become the lead
singer of a boys’ band?
“When he got the tattoo I was concerned, but this?
Whoever did that to him should be ashamed. You turned
our hero into a poor man’s Justin Bieber!”
Ronaldo boo boys baffle Zidane
coach is confident his star will soon be back on the
goal trail, having previously also experienced his own
low moments at Real Madrid
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane cannot understand
jeers directed at Cristiano Ronaldo but he is sure the
star will emerge from the wrath of the Santiago Bernabeu
Ronaldo has NEVER started a Real Madrid season
Ronaldo has only two goals in six La Liga appearances
this season and the 31-year-old was whistled by sections
of the home support when he took 11 shots without
converting any successfully during Sunday's 2-1 win over
And while former midfield maestro Zidane was critical of
fans booing Ronaldo, he can call upon parallel
experiences and tipped the 2016 Ballon d'Or nominee to
emerge from the situation stronger.
"I don't understand the whistles aimed at Cristiano.
They also whistled me," Zidane told a pre-match press
conference ahead of Wednesday's Copa del Rey tie against
third-tier minnows Cultural Leonesa.
"The Santiago Bernabeu is a special place and fans
demand a lot. Cristiano is used to it. The important
thing is to keep working.
"Maybe Cristiano is not taking his chances now but at
least he is getting them. He will end up scoring lots of
goals. I am not worried about him not scoring goals."
Long-term thigh injury victim Fabio Coentrao is back in
the Madrid squad for a match where Zidane will
understandably shuffle his pack.
'Only three Manchester United players good enough for
"Coentrao will be in the squad list, he is an important
player for us," the trainer said of the Portugal
full-back who is yet to feature this season having
missed his country's march to Euro 2016 glory.
"We are excited about the Copa del Rey tournament. We
will do everything we can to win the Copa del Rey.
"There will be 16 players in the squad list tomorrow.
There will be rotations. Many players will be rested and
will not make the squad list."
Zidane confirmed back-up goalkeeper Kiko Casilla will
return to his XI against Leonesa after deputising for
absent number one Keylor Navas during the opening weeks
of the season.
Mourinho's 'cold approach' at Man Utd training ground has NOT
gone down well
Portuguese coach has apparently shocked his players by
not leading training himself, preferring to sit in his
office and watch from a distance
Manchester United's stars are shocked at Jose Mourinho's
"cold" and "distant" approach in training following
their 4-0 loss at Chelsea, according to The Times .
Bailly injury leaves Man Utd & Mourinho without
only transfer success
The Portuguese suffered his heaviest-ever Premier League
defeat on Sunday at Stamford Bridge and blasted his
side's "incredible defensive mistakes" after the result.
Mourinho kept up his line of accusation ahead of their
EFL Cup fourth round clash against Manchester City in
midweek, calling the players "boys", and it appears his
approach in training reflects his attitude towards his
squad at the moment.
It is claimed that it is Rui Faria, Mourinho's
assistant, who is leading training at the club's
Carrington complex. Mourinho, meanwhile, is alleged to
watch from a distance or work in his office most of the
Four things Mourinho must do NOW to stop Man Utd rot
Such cold treatment has reportedly come as an unpleasant
surprise to those who thought Mourinho would give them
The Times claims that Mourinho has no intention of
changing his approach to the Man Utd squad he inherited
from Louis van Gaal any time soon either.
Man City must tell 's***' Guardiola to stop, says Toure's agent
midfielder has been frozen out under the Catalan boss,
and his representative has again taken the former
Barcelona head coach to task over his treatment of his
Yaya Toure's agent Dimitri Seluk has launched a fresh
attack on Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, urging the
club to intervene and tell him the midfielder is
considered as "family" at the Etihad Stadium.
Seluk previously slammed the former Barcelona and Bayern
Munich head coach for "humiliating" Toure by leaving him
out of his first-team plans and the club's Champions
League squad, before going on to talk down the Catalan's
coaching achievements at his old clubs.
Guardiola has said Toure will not play for him again at
City until he and the club's players receive an apology
from the midfielder over his representative's remarks.
But Seluk has already insisted he will not be saying
sorry and feels there is nothing wrong with questioning
Guardiola's decision to only play Toure once this season
- against Steaua Bucharest in August.
"It is not correct to do that. It is not correct to give
up on a top-class player. But this is his decision - he
is a good coach but his personality is s***.
"If Yaya is on the field or not, everyone will ask,
'What is this decision from Guardiola?' Normally a
person cannot make a decision like this.
"And it is England, not North Korea or Afghanistan - so
people will discuss whether it is right and they will
have their opinions.
"It is necessary to remember that Yaya, when he was in
Barcelona, played as a defender and they won against Man
United [in the 2009 Champions League final].
"It is very strange. All supporters like Guardiola but
my opinion is that supporters also see that Yaya gave
City a lot. They won the title two times with him and
"We'll see what Pep does. Many people don't understand
how it is possible to do what he has done with players."
Blonde bombshell Messi reveals why he changed his look
disappointment of another final defeat for the
Albiceleste and his decision to walk away from the
national team motivated La Pulga to pull out the
Barcelona's blonde bombshell Lionel Messi has revealed
the reason behind his drastic change of hairstyle over
The Argentina captain caused ripples throughout
the world of football when he appeared with a platinum
blonde do while on holiday with his family.
And when quizzed about the dye-job, he affirmed that it
was part of a time of soul-searching following his
nation's Copa America failure.
"One particularly tough day I dyed my hair, I had to
start again from scratch. I said to myself, 'I have to
make a clean break and start over", he explained during
an interview with cult Argentine comedy figure 'Mingo'
on Telefe's 'Polemica en el bar'.
The star donned 'Mingo's' iconic hat and checked scarf
during the chat, while he also saw the actor save one of
Messi also admitted that his young son Thiago might not
be following in his footsteps, as he shows little
interest in the beautiful game.
"I try not to give Thiago balls as presents, he doesn't
like football much," he said.
"We'll see if he gets into it now as he's started
playing in a club."
Barcelona sign Ronaldinho again!
has come to light that the Brazilian, who earned hero
status at Camp Nou after helping the Blaugrana return to
their former glory, will work with the club once more.
Ronaldinho is back at Barcelona! But don't get
too excited, fans, as it is in a non-playing role...
The Brazilian, 36, is teaming up with the club he helped
return to its former glory between 2003 and 2008 to act
as an ambassador.
Barcelona are opening a new office in New York, USA, to
enhance their growth internationally on 6 September,
which has brought about them re-signing Ronaldinho.
The Catalan giants will certainly prove to be a hit in
the States if Ronaldinho is good an ambassador as he was
with his feet back in his heydey at Camp Nou.
Higuain worth more than Pogba, insists Crespo
former Chelsea and Milan striker believes Juventus
signing his compatriot for €90m was more “logical” than
Manchester United landing the France star for €110m
Juventus were “far more logical” to spend €90m on
Gonzalo Higuain than Manchester United were to sign Paul
Pogba for €110m, according to Hernan Crespo.
The Serie A giants landed Higuain from rivals
Napoli in the fourth most expensive transfer in history,
before going on to sell Pogba to United in the largest
deal of all time.
And former Argentina international Crespo believes it
made more sense for Juventus to sign his compatriot
Higuain than it did for United to re-sign Pogba for a
“Nobody gives you anything for free, especially not in
football,” Crespo told La Nacion.
“If Juventus paid so much to get Higuain from Napoli, it
means he’s worth that money.
“In my view, it is logical to pay €90m for a striker who
scored 36 goals in a single season. It’s far more
logical than Manchester United paying €110m for Pogba.
“I say that with all due respect for the Frenchman, who
is a great midfielder.”
Higuain, 28, scored 36 times in 35 league games for
Napoli last season - the most goals netted in a single
Serie A campaign in history.
The former Real Madrid man scored the winner in Juventus'
2-1 win over Fiorentina on the opening day of the new
season, whereas Pogba has started two of United's first
three Premier League games.
Messi reveals desire to play for boyhood club Newell's
previously suggesting he would end his career at Camp
Nou, Argentina's has indicated a desire to play for his
first team, whom he left at the age of 13
Barcelona star Lionel Messi says he wants to play for
boyhood club Newell's Old Boys before the end of his
Messi left Newell's for Barca at the age of 13 and has
gone on to become one of the greatest players of all
time, winning the Ballon d'Or on five occasions.
The 29-year-old has previously indicated a desire to end
his career in Catalonia, but he appeared drawn to a
Newell's return during an interview with Telefe's
Polemica en el Bar in his homeland.
"I would love to [return]," he said. "It is something I
have kept an eye on because it was my dream as a child.
"Obviously my life started to change and went another
way, but I have no regrets.
"It's something I have kept an eye on. I want to play in
Argentine football and Newell's, where I grew up."
Messi recently announced his return to international
football having initially said he would retire from
Argentina duty following their Copa America Centenario
final defeat to Chile.
"It's what I felt at that time," he added. "At that time
everything collapsed around me because we all felt that
was the moment, because of how the team were and how we
played each game.
"We all want to win. I have been fighting with the
Seleccion and my dream is to win something.
"To get so close and not make it was a huge frustration
for all of us."
Lionel Messi returns to Argentina squad
Albiceleste captain announced he has reversed his
decision to step down from international football,
following a conversation with new coach Edgardo Bauza
Lionel Messi has confirmed in a statement his intention
to return to the Argentina national team.
The Barcelona star made the decision to retire
from international football after another heartbreaking
loss in the final of the 2016 Copa America.
Having spoken with new Albiceleste boss Edgardo Bauza,
Messi has now made the decision to represent his country
"I see there are lots of problems in Argentine football
and I do not want to create another," he explained
through a statement released on Friday.
"I do not want to cause any harm, I have always tried to
do the opposite and help wherever I could.
"We have to fix a lot of things in Argentine football,
but I'd rather do that from the inside and not
criticising from the outside."
The captain affirmed that it was his love of Argentina
that had convinced him to come back for the next World
Cup qualifiers after initially stepping down from the
"A lot of things went through my head the day of the
last final and I seriously thought about quitting, but I
love this country and this shirt too much," he said.
"I thank all the people who want me to keep playing with
Argentina, I hope we can soon deliver them some joy."
Ronaldo in top five highest-paid celebrities in the world
Real Madrid and Portugal superstar currently rakes in
$88m (£66.2m) in salary and sponsorship income, making
him one of the wealthiest personalities on the planet
Real Madrid and Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo is the
joint-fourth highest-paid celebrity in the world,
according to new figures published by Forbes.
Ronaldo, who recently helped Portugal win Euro 2016,
earns a total of $88m (£66.2m) in salary and sponsorship
income, putting him level with American TV star Dr. Phil
According to the data, Ronaldo, 31, earns $55m in wages
while the rest comes from his several lucrative
sponsorship deals with global brands such as Nike, Tag
Heuer, Sacoor Brothers suits and Monster headphones.
Ronaldo ranks above Barcelona forward Lionel Messi, who
is the eighth highest-paid celebrity and second
wealthiest footballer with an income of $81.5m (£61.3m).
The third richest sports celebrity is basketball icon
LeBron James on $77m (£57.9m), while musician Taylor
Swift ranks the highest on the list with an income of
British band One Direction ($110m/£82.7m) and American
author James Patterson ($95m/£71.5m) are the only other
two celebrities that finish higher than Ronaldo on
Lionel Messi planning international retirement after Copa
Barcelona star says that he may not represent Argentina
again after missing a penalty as the Albiceleste lost to
Chile in a shootout at MetLife Stadium on Sunday
A frustrated Lionel Messi declared that he is planning
to retire from international football following
Argentina's loss to Chile in the Copa America Centenario
"The national team is over for me. That's four
finals [lost]; it's not for me," Messi told reporters
after losing his third final in as many years. "The
decision is made, I think."
Sunday's match finished without a goal and went to a
penalty shootout, with Messi missing his spot kick on
the way to a 4-2 defeat.
It was the second time in as many years that Chile beat
Argentina on penalties in the Copa, which itself
followed the Albiceleste's loss to Germany in the World
Cup final in 2014. Messi also was part of the Argentina
side who lost to Brazil in the final in 2007.
Messi has been locked in a dispute with officials at the
Argentine Football Association, taking his frustration
to social media prior to the final, but his own
performance in Sunday's final also seemed to be weighing
on him after the contest.
"I feel a great sadness right now that this is happening
again," he said. "I missed my penalty, which was super
important. That's it."
Argentina's next matches are in World Cup qualification
ahead of the 2018 tournament in Russia. Gerardo
Martino's men sit third in the CONMEBOL pool after six
'What a disaster' - Messi hits out at Argentina Federation
Barcelona star vented his frustrations about the
Argentine Football Association (AFA) on Instagram as his
side prepare for the Copa America final against Chile
Argentina captain Lionel Messi hit out at the
country's football association after the team's flight
to New Jersey was delayed.
Messi was less than impressed with the Argentine
Football Association (AFA) on Thursday, with the flight
from Houston grounded ahead of Sunday's Copa America
Centenario final against Chile in New Jersey.
Argentina's new all-time leading goalscorer after
netting his 55th international goal in the 4-0
semi-final win over the United States, Messi took to
Instagram to vent his frustration.
"Once again waiting on a plane to leave for our
destination," Messi wrote.
"What a disaster the AFA are. My god!"
Messi's Instagram post drew a response from the AFA, who
released a statement, which read: "The Argentine
Football Federation informs that the flight which is
transporting the national team to New Jersey suffered a
delayed departure due to weather issues.
"Also, the AFA advises that all of the scheduled times
of the transfers are designated by the organisers of the
Copa America Centenario."
'Ronaldinho was more gifted than Messi or Ronaldo' - Deco
ex-Portugal international enjoyed success at Barcelona
with the Brazilian and believes he did not have to work
as hard as the modern greats to play at such a high
Former Barcelona midfielder Deco believes
Ronaldinho was far more naturally gifted with a football
than either Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ex-Portugal international Deco played alongside
Ronaldinho during his time at Camp Nou before both left
the club in 2008 having won two Liga titles and the
Champions League in 2006.
And Deco feels the Brazilian World Cup winner's ability
with the ball at his feet surpasses that of the mordern
greats, though he concedes both Messi and Ronaldo have
used their other strengths to become the world's best.
"Cristiano was young and athletic, very competitive," he
said in his role as a pundit for Sony Six. "Messi worked
hard to do what he can do with a football now at
"Ronaldinho was a natural with special ability. Whenever
we gave the ball to him, the moves and goals were from a
different world. He was far more gifted than Leo or
Justin Bieber invites Neymar for kick-about in back garden
Brazil international was invited to the Canadian
singer's home recently, with the pop star impressing as
the pair kept the ball in the air for over 30 seconds
With two months to go until the Olympic Games in
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil star Neymar can be forgiven for
unwinding after a hectic club campaign.
The Barcelona man's not completely stopped playing
football, though, with Justin Bieber inviting him for a
kick-about in his back garden.
The Canadian singer surprisingly held his own as the
pair kept the ball in the air for as long as possible,
with Bieber using his feet, head and shoulder to
continue the sequence.
Neymar, meanwhile, looks effortless as he brings every
pass under instant control.
Ronaldo returns to Real Madrid training ahead of Manchester
Portuguese star has given Zinedine Zidane's side a boost
ahead of the game at the Bernabeu on Wednesday as he
steps up his recovery from a hamstring problem
Cristiano Ronaldo has returned to Real Madrid training
as he battles to be fit in time for his side's Champions
League semi-final second leg against Manchester City.
The Portuguese star has missed Madrid's last
three games due to a hamstring injury but has taken to
social media in recent days to show he is working hard
to regain his fitness.
Zinedine Zidane admitted prior to Saturday's 1-0 win
over Real Sociedad that both Ronaldo and Karim Benzema
were doubts for the clash with the tie delicately
balanced at 0-0 after the first leg at the Etihad.
However, Real Madrid have now confirmed that Ronaldo,
who is the top scorer in this season's Champions League
with 16 goals already, is back in training as they begin
their preparations for the clash at the Bernabeu.
Neymar buys jet for $9.1 million
forward Neymar spent $9.1 million (£6.2 million) on a
new jet last year, according to Brazilian newspaper O
Globo, meaning that his goalscoring statistics are not
the only thing taking off!
A document shows that the Brazil international purchased
the Cessna 680 aircraft in August 2015 through his
company Neymar Sport and Marketing.
The business jet can carry up to 12 passengers,
has a maximum range of 3,190 miles and can cruise at a
speed of 890 kilometres per hour.
As part of an investigation into Neymar's tax affairs,
the former Santos man had £32 million worth of assets
frozen in February, including a yacht and another jet
owned by the 24-year-old.
Barcelona forward Neymar spent $9.1 million (£6.2
million) on a new jet last year, according to Brazilian
newspaper O Globo, meaning that his goalscoring
statistics are not the only thing taking off!
A document shows that the Brazil international purchased
the Cessna 680 aircraft in August 2015 through his
company Neymar Sport and Marketing.
The business jet can carry up to 12 passengers, has a
maximum range of 3,190 miles and can cruise at a speed
of 890 kilometres per hour.
As part of an investigation into Neymar's tax affairs,
the former Santos man had £32 million worth of assets
frozen in February, including a yacht and another jet
owned by the 24-year-old.
That won't stop Neymar getting around, though, with his
shiny new plane still available to use and even having
space for Luis Enrique and the Barcelona starting
Ronaldo caught watching a video of HIMSELF on Real Madrid's
The Portugal star missed Tuesday's clash through injury,
but passed the time on the bench before the game by
checking out Gary Lineker's Instagram
Cristiano Ronaldo cut a forlorn figure on Tuesday
evening after it was revealed that he would miss the
Champions League clash due to injury.
But bizarrely, Ronaldo’s way of passing the time
before the game was to have a flick through Instagram.
And a video that seemed to take his fancy was one of
himself from earlier that evening, which was posted on
Ronaldo missed the goalless stalemate but is expected to
be fit for the return fixture next week.
Owen Hargreaves, a former team-mate of Ronaldo at
Manchester United, met the Madrid star before the match
and claimed that he would’ve played it it were the
Champions League final.
“I hadn't seen him for quite some time and he looked a
little bit disappointed sitting on the bench there just
waiting,” Hargreaves told BT Sport.
“We had a quick chat and I think he was quite upset with
the fact he wasn't able to play.
'Never give up and be positive' - Ronaldo rallies Madrid
The Portugal star is carrying a thigh injury that may
yet see him sit out another weeks, but he has offered
his team-mates an optimistic message
Cristiano Ronaldo was keen to spread positivity around
the Real Madrid camp after he sat out Tuesday's
Champions League semi-final first-leg 0-0 draw at
Shorn of Ronaldo, before losing the half-fit
Karim Benzema at half-time, Madrid were unable to secure
a precious away goal as City goalkeeper Joe Hart made a
flurry of stunning late saves at the Etihad Stadium.
Ronaldo has now missed Madrid's last two games with a
He was quoted by AS before the game: "The strain is
still there. I'll wait for the next game. If it was a
final, I'd give it a try."
Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane refused to give
assurances over Ronaldo's fitness status for next week's
second leg at Santiago Bernabeu.
But Ronaldo's message of "Never give up and be
positive", posted on Instagram after the match can be
viewed as a rallying cry to his colleagues, or a
suggestion of his own determination to play the home
Madrid director Emilio Butragueno preached patience with
the Portugal star, suggesting it made more sense to have
their star man fit for the second leg and a late-season
title charge in La Liga.
He told reporters: "There are two legs so we're going to
Mourinho: Messi makes winning easier
former Chelsea boss claims the Argentine's brilliance is
usually the difference but is adamant that a team's
Jose Mourinho has no doubt winning matches is easier
with Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi in a team, but
insists a team's mentality takes precedence over any
Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi has won a
staggering 26 trophies during his senior career with
Barca, including four Champions League titles.
The Catalan giants are on course to reach the
quarter-finals of the Europe's premier club competition
for the ninth straight season, heading into their
last-16 second leg against Arsenal at Camp Nou on
Wednesday with a 2-0 aggregate advantage.
Mourinho believes Messi, who scored both goals in the
first leg at the Emirates Stadium, will likely prove the
difference maker as Barca look to become the first side
to successfully defend the Champions League trophy.
"First of all it's about individual players. Just to
give you an example, Messi won the Champions League with
three different managers," he said in an interview with
"I think it's easier to win with him, than against him.
I am a football manager. I know that sometimes people
think that the individual is more important than the
"But when I feel that it is time for me to take a
permanent holiday - I still think that the team is more
important than anything.
"But the obvious reality is that there are some players
who can make a difference."
Mourinho has been without a club since he left Chelsea
in December and hopes to return to work ahead of next
"Yes I was lucky enough to have good options since I
left Chelsea in December – not just options but good
options," the Portuguese added.
Messi sets new Champions League record against Arsenal
Argentine has now scored nine goals against the Gunners
as his fine finish rounded off a 3-1 win at Camp Nou on
Another game and another record set by Lionel
Messi - this time at the expense of Arsenal.
The Argentine capped off a 3-1 victory on Wednesday
evening with a stunning scooped finish from close range,
although the goal of the night was Luis Suarez’s sublime
effort to put Barcelona 2-1 up.
But Messi’s goal was his ninth against Arsenal in the
Champions League - and no other player in the
competition’s history has scored more against a single
Messi: I respect Ronaldo, but nothing more
Barcelona star insists there is a mutual respect between
himself and his Real Madrid counterpart, but admits that
he does not count the Portuguese as a friend
Barcelona star Lionel Messi insists there is a mutual
respect between himself and Real Madrid's Cristiano
Ronaldo, but admits their relationship does not go
Messi and Ronaldo are widely considered the best
players of the modern era, with the debate over which of
the two is the greatest splitting players, pundits and
Wenger: You have to win everything to make Arsenal fans happy
French manager says he can live with the expectations of
the Gunners fans ahead of their FA Cup quarter-final
encounter with Watford on Sunday
Arsenal fans' unrelenting thirst for success is
difficult to quench, according to manager Arsene Wenger,
claiming his team's accomplishments are "never enough".
The Gunners sit third in the Premier League, have
reached the Round of 16 in the Champions League and are
in line to claim a potential third successive FA Cup
However, despite the team's positive results this term,
Wenger remains increasingly likely to end his long-term
tenure as boss on a whimper, with supporters unhappy
with the club's domestic form.
"It’s never enough,” Wenger told reporters ahead of
Arsenal's FA Cup quarter-final tie with Watford. “As
long as you don’t win everything, it’s never enough.
“When we didn’t win anything, they said, ‘You didn’t
even win the FA Cup’. People always wants more.
“But, if you look at the history of Arsenal, we are a
club who’s won the cup more than anybody else. We’ve won
it 12 times. And I have won it six times with my team.”
Wenger understands the expectations of modern day
supporters and says he will continue to strive for
success in all competitions.
He added: “We have to live with exaggerations and I can
“I have an affinity with Wembley. When you are at
Wembley and you see the crowd coming in red and white –
it’s a special day in English culture.
Messi: I respect Ronaldo, but nothing more
Barcelona star insists there is a mutual respect between
himself and his Real Madrid counterpart, but admits that
he does not count the Portuguese as a friend
Barcelona star Lionel Messi insists there is a mutual
respect between himself and Real Madrid's Cristiano
Ronaldo, but admits their relationship does not go
Messi and Ronaldo are widely considered the best
players of the modern era, with the debate over which of
the two is the greatest splitting players, pundits and
No player outside the superstar duo has won the Ballon
d'Or since 2007 and the battle for number one, as well
as their allegiance to Spanish football's rival
superpowers, has led to rumours that they dislike each
While Messi insists that they show respect towards one
another, he stopped short of saying they have a pleasant
"We are professionals that defend our teams, and rivals
in this game, nothing more than that," Messi told
Argentine newspaper El Grafico.
"Sometimes it happens that we win or that we lose. There
has always been respect and nothing more."
Messi counts seven La Liga titles, three Copa del Reys
and four Champions League winners' medals on his
incredible list of achievements with Barcelona, but is
yet to taste international success, having been a losing
finalist in the 2014 World Cup and 2007 and 2015 Copa
The 28-year-old has 49 international goals to his name
and is closing in on Gabriel Batistuta's record of 57
for Argentina, but Messi insisted it is major honours as
opposed to individual accolades that motivate him.
Barcelona vice-president slams Ronaldo comments
Mestre insists none of the Catalans' players would blame
defeat on their team-mates as the Real Madrid star
appeared to do on Saturday
Barcelona vice-president Jordi Mestre has criticised
Cristiano Ronaldo for blaming Real Madrid's La Liga woes
on his team-mates, claiming none of the Catalan club's
players would ever do the same.
Madrid slipped to a 1-0 defeat to city rivals
Atletico on Saturday thanks to a second-half strike from
That result, combined with Barca's 2-1 win over Sevilla
on Sunday, leaves Madrid in third place, 12 points
adrift of Luis Enrique's leaders.
And Ronaldo was quick to point the finger at his
colleagues following their loss at the Santiago Bernabeu,
saying "if everyone was at my level, perhaps we would be
Asked about Barca's commanding eight-point lead over
Atletico at the top, Mestre added: "La Liga is not won
at the end of February. That's not a cliche, it's true
because we could slip up and I'm sure Real Madrid will
bounce back. There are no free meals here."
Messi's wonder strike from behind the goal
The Argentine made headlines this week with a clever
penalty assist and is already showing off some new
material courtesy of his famous left foot
The dust has barely settled on Lionel Messi's
penalty-pass shenanigans and he's already upping his
Putting on a show for visiting Italian pop star Eros
Ramazzotti, the Barcelona icon showed off another neat
trick - this time curling one in from behind the goal!
And we thought hitting the crossbar from a corner was
See Messi's latest wonderful skills in the video below:
Barcelona penalty move meant for me, claims Neymar
Messi passed from the spot to set Luis Suarez up for a
third goal, but the Brazilian revealed that they their
preparations had ended in him applying the finishing
The innovative penalty tactic employed by Lionel Messi
and Luis Suarez in Barcelona's 6-1 win over Celta Vigo
was meant to involve Neymar, according to the Brazilian.
Messi stunned the Camp Nou when he passed his
penalty into Suarez's path for the Uruguayan to complete
a hat-trick in the Liga rout on Sunday.
The Argentina star could have converted himself to net a
300th league goal, but drew plenty of plaudits for his
inspired display, which saw him open the scoring with a
And Neymar opened up on Barca's preparation for the
set-piece, revealing that Suarez was not the one who was
supposed to score.
"We trained on this penalty routine, but for me.
However, Suarez was near the ball and scored." he told
"We are really happy to be unbeaten in 30 matches. We
are playing in our way and we want to keep this streak
Neymar completed the scoring as Barca regained a
three-point lead at the top of the table with a game in
hand on title rivals Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid.
Ronaldo: I know why Messi took THAT penalty
Barcelona star has come under criticism for passing his
spot kick to Luis Suarez in Sunday's 6-1 win over Celta
but the Real Madrid talisman says he understands why he
Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo says that he
understands why Lionel Messi decided to pass his penalty
to Luis Suarez in Barcelona's 6-1 win against Celta
The Barcelona star has been criticised by some
for a lack of respect in passing from the penalty spot
to allow his team-mate to round off his hat-trick late
in the game.
Ronaldo, though, says that he knows why the Argentine
opted for such a rare tactic in their trouncing of their
"Messi's penalty? I know why he did it but I don't have
more to add," Ronaldo told reporters ahead of the first
leg of his side's Champions League last-16 tie against
And while the Portuguese superstar did not go so far as
to praise his Barca counterpart and perennial Ballon
d'Or rival, he admits an admiration for Roma icon
"Totti is amazing, a reference for every player, and he
has shown that age isn't important in football," Ronaldo
enthused. "He is good for football, for kids and for
"This tie is as equal as Roma coach Luciano Spalletti
says but, when the match starts, this can change. We
will see at the end."
Ronaldo: I never spoke with Giggs, Scholes or Ferdinand
Real Madrid star reacted angrily to suggestions that he
doesn't get on with Gareth Bale and cited the Man United
team of 2008 as an example of why friendships don't
Cristiano Ronaldo has revealed he rarely spoke to
three of his former Manchester United team-mates with
whom he shared some of his greatest triumphs.
The Real Madrid superstar hit out at questions relating
to the strained relationship he is reported to endure
with Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema ahead of the Spanish
side’s Champions League clash with Roma.
The 31-year-old insisted friendships off the pitch mean
nothing as long as his team is winning on it and claimed
he rarely spoke to the British core which played a key
role in helping him win his first European title back in
Ronaldo I'm staying in Real Madrid
31-year-old has been linked with the likes of Paris
Saint-Germain but is determined to see out his contract
at the Santiago Bernabeu before he considers an exit
Cristiano Ronaldo has admitted he could leave Real
Madrid at the end of his contract in 2018.
The Portugal international has been linked with
Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United in recent
years but has repeatedly rejected speculation he could
quit the Bernabeu.
However, when asked about his future as he was presented
with the Pichichi prize for scoring the most goals in La
Liga last season, he revealed he may not see out his
career with Madrid.
"I have been in Spain six years. I was also at
Manchester United for six years and that was a great
experience, a great championship, but for me this is the
best league in the world," Ronaldo said to Marca. "It's
a privilege to be here.
"I want to be here for a couple more years and then
we'll see. That's the duration of my contract and I want
to give my all in that time."
The Madrid star, who was voted second in the Ballon d'Or
earlier in 2016, also paid tribute to his support system
at the Bernabeu as well as the club's supporters.
"I dedicate this award to the team, to the coaches, the
staff and everyone at Madrid," he enthused. "Without
them, I wouldn't have been able to score so many goals
"Let's hope the fans keep supporting as they have been.
They are spectacular. We will give everything on the
pitch to try to win trophies and the Champions League
Messi's kidney procedure explained as Barcelona star continues
Argentine attacker is out of hospital and resting at
home in Barcelona after undergoing a procedure that is
aimed at solving his renal problems
Barcelona forward Lionel Messi is out of hospital and
recovering after a non-surgical procedure to cure his
kidney problems, Goal has learned.
The 28-year-old first suffered a renal
complication back in December during the Club World Cup
and missed Barca's semi-final win over Chinese champions
The five-times Ballon d'Or winner was in hospital in
Barcelona on Tuesday for a lithotripsy, an
extra-corporeal treatment that typically uses ultrasound
shock waves to break kidney stones into small particles
that can then be passed out by the body.
The procedure does not require incision but is usually
carried out under a local anaesthetic because the shock
waves can be painful.
Sources close to the player have confirmed to Goal that
the procedure was planned after Barca announced further
tests on Monday.
The Argentine was treated on Tuesday for just under an
hour and was accompanied by Barca doctors Ricard Pruna
and Pepe Costa, along with his partner Antonella.
Messi is now resting at home and will play no part in
Wednesday night's Copa del Rey semi-final second leg
against Valencia, although Barca are already 7-0 up from
the first match last week.
The player's kidney complications have continued since
December, but this treatment is expected to be a success
and he should be back in training with his team-mates on
If the problems persist, the player could undergo the
treatment again in future in order to avoid surgery.
Ramos: Neymar to Real Madrid? Football is unpredictable
defender has admitted he wouldn't be surprised to see
the forward move to the Bernabeu in the future but ruled
out ever joining Barcelona
Sergio Ramos has admitted "football is
unpredictable" after being asked if he thought Neymar
would ever join Real Madrid.
The former Santos man was reported to have met with a
Madrid delegation ahead of the Fifa Ballon d'Or gala in
The 23-year-old quickly denied such a meeting ever took
place, while Barcelona coach Luis Enrique revealed last
week that he expects Neymar to sign a new contract
sooner rather than later.
That has not stopped Ramos from hailing the Brazil
captain's talents, however.
"Neymar is a great player who can make the difference,"
the defender told reporters.
Neymar accused of tax evasion and forgery in Brazil
Barcelona star faces fresh legal concerns in his
homeland after Sao Paulo's state prosecution recommended
he be charged
Barcelona and Brazil forward Neymar is facing
accusations of tax evasion and forgery in his homeland.
Neymar, the player's father Neymar Sr, current
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu and his
predecessor Sandro Rosell are all accused of evading
taxes and misrepresentation in order to "abolish taxes
owed to the IRS of Brazil".
Brazilian state Sao Paulo's public prosecution office (MPF)
confirmed that they had recommended the four men be
charged by the federal court. A judge must now decide
whether to take the case forward.
The prosecution's case centres around alleged fraudulent
use of Neymar's image rights from as early as 2006, as
well as irregularities in the Brazil captain's transfer
from Santos to Barcelona in 2013.
An MPF statement claims that Neymar ought to have paid
27.5 per cent in income tax for any money received as a
result of promotional work. However, as the funds were
apparently redirected through companies owned by Neymar
Sr, it is claimed that the rate paid was only 12.53 per
A €40 million payment made in instalments by Barca to
Neymar Sr's N&N Consulting company is at the centre of
the Brazilian investigation into Neymar's money-spinning
transfer to Camp Nou.
It is alleged that the sum, €10m of which was paid two
years before the striker moved to Spain, was
fraudulently listed as payment for management of image
rights and scouting in South America.
Brazilian authorities froze an estimated R$188.8m
(€43.4m) of Neymar and his family's assets in September
last year in an attempt to reclaim money owed.
The Barcelona forward appeared in Spanish court on
Tuesday to give testimony in a separate case concerning
allegations of fraud brought by Brazilian investment
fund DIS in relation to his transfer to Spain three
Ronaldo must realise he is not the boss at Real Madrid -
former coach of the Spanish side says the club will have
a problem if their star man attempts to over exert his
influence on new boss Zinedine Zidane
Cristiano Ronaldo has to realise he is not the
boss at Real Madrid following the appointment of
Zinedine Zidane as the club's new coach, Vanderlei
Zidane was confirmed as Rafa Benitez's replacement on
Monday after the Spaniard was sacked less than seven
months into a three-year deal, amid rumours of disputes
with key players including the Portuguese star.
Former Blancos boss Luxemburgo, though, has told
Madrid's talisman that he must not attempt to over exert
his influence in the dressing room.
"Zinedine Zidane was a leader in the dressing room when
he was a player," he said.
"Cristiano Ronaldo will have to understand that there
will be a person with leadership and great knowledge of
football in there.
"The dressing room belongs to a player up to a certain
point but then it belongs to a coach.
"If Ronaldo thinks he's the coach it will be difficult.
He has to understand he's a player and not a coach.
Zidane is a coach. If you can make that clear - it
doesn't matter if it's Ronaldo or Messi.
"At Barcelona, Messi is a great example. Under Guardiola
he was just a player. With Neymar, he's just a player.
Twitter goes wild over Ballon d'Or winner 'reveal'
is being claimed that Fifa have inadvertently let slip
that Lionel Messi has won the prize, though football's
governing body insist it is just a rehash of an old hoax
Social media has been abuzz with the claim that
Fifa have accidentally revealed the Ballon d'Or winner
five days before the announcement, with Lionel Messi's
name attached to a rather official looking document.
The news originated from a tweet from Dutch journalist
Michael Abbink, who writes for NU Sport, who appeared to
have discovered a press release proclaiming Messi as the
winner (and Germany's Celia Sasic as the Women's World
Player of the Year).
Fortunately for fans of Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar,
however, the leak appears to have been a false alarm,
with the document in question circulating as far back as
The "announcement" was first picked up by Voetbal
Primeur, who claimed it was a leaked document from
European Sports Media (ESM) who regularly organise award
But ESM later removed the image from their website, and
released a statement explaining: "Due to a technical
problem at transmission, Lionel Messi and Celia Sasic
were listed as FIFA Ballon d'Or winners 2015.
"Actually, they won the awards UEFA Best Player in
Europe 2015 resp. UEFA Best Women’s Player in Europe
2015. We apologize for this mistake."
Fifa have since confirmed that no leak has occurred,
describing the latest claims as rehashes of the article
from November, meaning you will have to wait until
January 11 to find out who the winner is.
Zidane tells Manchester United & PSG they have NO hope of
World Cup winner insists the forward is the "soul" of
his side and says the Portugal international will be
played in his most comfortable position
Zinedine Zidane has told Manchester United and
Paris Saint-Germain that they have no chance of signing
Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid.
Both United and PSG have been monitoring Ronaldo's
situation at Madrid amid reports that he was unhappy
during Rafa Benitez's reign.
But Zidane, who replaced Rafa Benitez as manager after
the Spaniard's sacking on Monday, insists the Portugal
international is the "soul" in his Madrid side.
"Cristiano Ronaldo is non-transferable,” Zidane said at
his press conference on Friday.
“He's the soul of this team. While he's here, he won't
"Cristiano will play on the wings, how he's most
comfortable. I won't tell him much. I want him to be
Zidane revealed he has offered private words of
encouragement to compatriot Benzema but feels there is
not much that needs to be said when it comes to Ronaldo.
"I have said to Benzema in private: 'my God, you have
some quality!'" he said.
"Cristiano will play on the wing. I'm going to say few
things to Cristiano, I only want him to be happy.
"A player can always improve, be he 20 or 34, and I want
to help them improve.
"It's difficult to know which player has impressed me
the most. We have tremendous quality, I can't single out
just one player. It's a pleasure for me to see them
Zidane also believes he has held the respect of the
dressing-room since his spell as Carlo Ancelotti's
assistant coach during the 2013-14 season and is not
harbouring any concerns ahead of Saturday's match.
"I'm convinced that everything will go well," he added.
"Nothing is worrying me at the moment. I'll sleep very
well tonight because training was spectacular.
"I want the full support of the fans and I want to bring
them joy. I want the Bernabeu fans to enjoy their team.
How Messi made history in the Club World Cup final
Argentine was on target in the Club World Cup final on
Sunday and it proved to be a significant goal for the
Barcelona star, as his side triumphed over River Plate
Lionel Messi just keeps breaking records! The
Argentine returned to the starting XI for the Club World
Cup final and, having missed the semi-final victory over
Guangzhou Evergrande, he made his mark in the win over
The 28-year-old slotted home Neymar's knock-down to
score the opening goal of the match, a strike that
didn't just help Barca on their way to securing their
fifth trophy of 2015, but also set a new record for the
Argentine fans SPIT at Messi as Barcelona team-mates step in to
Lionel Messi was spat at by angry River
Plate fans as Barcelona made their way home from the Club World Cup final, with
team-mates forced to hold back the Argentine star.
The 28-year-old, who has endured a rather fraught relationship with fans of la
Albiceleste in recent years, had earlier scored in the 3-0 victory over River in
the final in Yokohama to send his countrymen packing.
Barcelona were at Tokyo’s Narita airport ready to fly back to Spain with
their latest trophy when the incident occurred at passport control, with a brief
scuffle breaking out.
Reports suggest River fans began shouting abuse at Messi as the Barca team
headed through the security gate, with one even spitting at the forward, who had
to be held back by Javier Mascherano and manager Luis Enrique.
One of Messi’s best friends in the Barca squad, Luis Suarez, was also seen
calming down Messi, who had tried to confront the angry fans.
The situation was cooled by a combination of Barcelona officials and the
intervention of Mascherano and Luis Enrique, though it will have done little to
improve Messi’s relationship with supporters from his home nation.
The fracas was witnessed by media and fans looking to take pictures with the
Barca stars, while River directors who were nearby immediately condemned the
behaviour of the fans to Argentine media.
Barcelona picked up their fifth trophy of the year with the comprehensive win
over River on Sunday, with Messi opening the scoring before Luis Suarez netted
twice more – the Uruguayan ended the tournament with five goals and the Golden
The Catalan club do not play again until December 30, when they face Real Betis,
and remain top of the Liga table after Atletico Madrid surprisingly lost 1-0 to
Real Madrid fans boo Ronaldo
Portugal international's performance in the Blancos 4-0
thrashing at home to Barcelona was bad enough to trigger
widespread jeering from his own supporters
Real Madrid fans have vented their anger at Cristiano
Ronaldo after watching their side sink to a crushing 4-0
defeat by Barcelona on Saturday at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Ronaldo was powerless to prevent Luis Enrique’s
side moving six points clear at the top of La Liga
thanks to a double from Luis Suarez and goals from
Neymar and Andres Iniesta.
The white handkerchiefs were out in force at the final
whistle with Rafa Benitez now under increasing pressure
having been forced to deny rumours of a rift between
himself and key players including Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos
and James Rodriguez in the build-up to his first Clasico
as Real Madrid coach.
Ronaldo was certainly not the sole person to blame for a
shambolic display at home to the European champions, but
many of the jeers from Blancos supporters were directed
towards him nonetheless.
The Ballon d'Or holder has not scored in his last three
games and frustration at his performances have grown in
the Spanish capital recently, despite bagging 13 goals
so far this season.
Alves tells Ronaldo: You must accept the flak!
Brazilian says the Real Madrid ace just has to deal with
the criticism coming his way given he so willingly puts
himself in the limelight
Barcelona full-back Dani Alves says Cristiano Ronaldo
should expect to take most of the blame for Real
Madrid's Clasico humiliation.
Barca cruised to a 4-0 success at the Santiago
Bernabeu on Saturday, piling the pressure on coach
Rafael Benitez, as well as president Florentino Perez
and star forward Ronaldo.
But Dani Alves refused to offer any sympathy to Barca's
fierce rivals, suggesting criticism comes with the
territory for big-name players such as the Portuguese
"He's still Cristiano - a top quality player. Perhaps
that's the problem," he told reporters.
"How can I say this? He's such a character, he likes to
be the protagonist. If you want to be like that, when
you win they speak about you and put you in the
limelight but, if you lose, you must take the flak.
"If the team doesn't get things right or win it's going
to be your fault.
"But we have enough to worry about ourselves without
Cristiano. To be honest, I don't care what Cristiano
Ronaldo tips Mourinho & Chelsea to bounce back
30-year-old has admitted that nothing surprises him in
football anymore but believes his former Real Madrid
manager will turn things around at Stamford Bridge
Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo has backed his
compatriot Jose Mourinho to bounce back from Chelsea's
poor start to the season and turn the club's fortunes
Ronaldo played under Mourinho at the Santiago Bernabeu
before his return to Stamford Bridge and hopes to see
another one of Portugal's most famous exports return to
The 30-year-old has admitted, however, that after 13
years in professional football few things surprise him.
"I'm not surprised because in football anything can
happen," Ronaldo told BBC Sport. "I'm not surprised.
"Of course he is a manager that I was working with for
two years and I know his potential.
"I know him and Chelsea are going to pass this tough
"As a Portuguese man of course I want to see the
Portuguese people at the top level all the time, so this
is what I wish for him - that he can go through this bad
situation and make Chelsea fans happy, because I think
they deserve it."
Madrid give Benzema vote of confidence
Florentino Perez met with the striker on his return from
spending a night in jail and the club are ready to back
their player in the belief he can prove his innocence
A bomb went off at Real Madrid on Thursday. And this
time, it had nothing to do with the results, the
performance of the team, the sporting project or the
club's position in La Liga or the Champions League. No,
this particular matter involving Karim Benzema was much
The French forward was charged with conspiracy to
blackmail his international team-mate Mathieu Valbuena
over a sex tape and spent the night in jail in
Versailles after giving testimony to a judge in Paris.
Logically, that story set alarms bells ringing at Real
Madrid and was the major item on the agenda for the
Spanish side on Wednesday night and throughout Thursday.
And Goal can confirm that the matter has caused
"concern" with the powers that be at the Santiago
Bernabeu. More and more so, in fact, as the full details
of the story filtered through overnight.
Benzema landed in Madrid first thing on Thursday and
went straight to training, where he is stepping up his
recovery from injury to prepare - if possible - for this
Sunday's game away to Sevilla.
There, at the club's training ground in Valdebebas, he
was met by president Florentino Perez, who was eager to
hear his player's version of the events of the previous
24 hours in order to gauge the severity of the media
storm awaiting the club.
Following the meeting, Madrid released an official
statement supporting Benzema.
"Karim Benzema restarted his training session this
afternoon in the Ciudad Real Madrid after giving
evidence to the French authorities in the city of
Versailles," the statement read.
"President of Real Madrid, Florentino Perez, has held a
meeting with the player in which he expressed his full
support and confidence in the goodness of his
performance and his complete innocence.
"The club acknowledge and value his professional
commitment, his demonstrated partnership and his
unblemished attitude within the first team during the
six years that he is part of Real Madrid."
Ronaldo: I’m the best player in the world, not Messi
Portugal international insists he is not bothered by his
rival's achievements in 2015 and says his mentality has
allowed him to become one of the world's greats
Cristiano Ronaldo believes that he is the best player in
the world ahead of Lionel Messi.
The Real Madrid forward has been battling for top
spot with the Barcelona star and has won the Ballon d’Or
ahead of the Argentine for the past two years.
Messi heads into this year’s ceremony having won the
treble with Barcelona, but when asked about his rival’s
achievements, Ronaldo told El Pais: ”It doesn’t bother
“If you look back over my past eight years, I’ve always
been at the peak; and that is difficult. Name me someone
else who has done it? After that, being No.1 or No.2 is
a matter of small details, such as if you win trophies
“Perhaps for you, Messi is the best; in my head, I am
the best – and everyone should think that about
ourselves. That is why I have been able to achieve so
much in my career.
“It was hard for me to watch Messi picking up several
Ballon d’Ors. I’d be thinking, ‘Why should I go to the
Messi the only one who deserves Ballon d'Or - Matthaus
only did the former award winner back the Argentine to
win his fifth prize, but he also believed Luis Enrique
would take best coach to complete a clean sweep for
German football idol Lothar Matthaus has thrown his
weight behind Lionel Messi to win the 2015 Ballon d'Or,
insisting that no-one else merits the award.
The forward helped Barcelona to an unprecedented
second treble during 2014/15, and also played a key part
in Argentina's run to the Copa America final this year.
And for Matthaus, Messi stands out as the sole candidate
as he seeks his fifth Ballon d'Or.
"There is only one player who deserves the prize: Lionel
Messi," 1990 prize-winner told Fifa's official website.
"He has returned to a wonderful level with his club, and
has not just won the Champions League but also the Copa
[del Rey] and Liga double. Although titles with
Argentina get away from him.
"Despite everything, his goal-scoring record speaks for
him, the brilliance of his performances, as well as the
triumphs he has celebrated for Barca.
"He has extraordinary class and constantly shows the
uniqueness of his play. It would surprise me a lot if
the trophy didn't go to him."
The German also commented on the coaching award, also
signalling a Barcelona man - Luis Enrique - as the
"Since this year there has not been a European
Championship nor World Cup, it is natural for the focus
to be more on club football and there Barcelona have
been head and shoulders above the rest," he explained.
Ronaldo presented with record fourth Golden Shoe award
former Manchester United forward has been presented with
the prize for Europe's highest goalscorer, pipping rival
Lionel Messi to the prize
Cristiano Ronaldo has been presented with a record
fourth Golden Shoe award in a ceremony on Tuesday, after
scoring 48 goals in the 2014-15 season.
Ronaldo collected the award, given to Europe's
highest goalscorer over a season, ahead of rival Lionel
Messi, as the Barcelona forward managed a total of 43
goals, two less than his La Liga counterpart.
The former Manchester United attacker has won the award
on three previous occasions, twice while at current club
Real Madrid and once when leading the forward line at
The 30-year-old ended the last campaign without any
silverware at the Santiago Bernabeu, as Messi's
Barcelona swept to an impressive treble, but the
Portugal captain has again been recognised for his
individual goalscoring exploits.
Ronaldo's remarkable goalscoring record was recently
commended by the Madrid club, with a ceremony dedicated
to the forward overtaking club legend Raul as the
all-time top goalscorer for Los Blancos and the latest
Golden Shoe award only further recognises his
Cristiano Ronaldo will retire at Real Madrid - Ancelotti
Portuguese goalscorer has been linked with transfers to
Manchester United and PSG, but his former coach at the
Bernabeu believes he will not be moving
Carlo Ancelotti believes Cristiano Ronaldo is destined
to stay at Real Madrid until the end of his career.
Ronaldo has a contract with Madrid until June
2018, but has recently been linked with his former club
Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain.
Nevertheless, ex-Madrid boss Ancelotti would be
surprised if his former pupil were to leave the Santiago
"He etched his name into the record books at Real Madrid
the other day when he equaled Raul's goalscoring
record," Ancelotti told Le Parisien.
"I cannot imagine him leaving Real Madrid.
"I think he will stay at Madrid until the end of his
career. Everybody at the club loves him."
Ronaldo netted twice in Madrid's 2-0 Champions League
win over Malmo earlier this month to equal Raul's tally
of 323 goals and seems set to become Madrid's sole
all-time top goalscorer after the international break.
Ancelotti also had his say on Angel Di Maria, another
player he coached at Madrid and who joined Paris Saint-Germain
this year after an unsuccessful season at Manchester
"Di Maria will help PSG progress, because he is a team
player more than anything else. He is not a selfish
player at all," the Italian added.
"I played him in midfield at Madrid because we needed to
find a solution after Sami Khedira got injured. He did
very well in midfield.
"But I do not think that is his best position. He is
even better in attack. He could play on either wing and
even as a centre forward."
Ronaldo in spiky rant at world's press: I am not obliged to
Portugal international scored twice in Europe to take
his career goal tally to a landmark figure, before
turning on the press who he feels have not respected him
in the past
Cristiano Ronaldo broke his own media ban to criticise
the world’s press after bringing up 500 career goals
with a brace in Real Madrid’s win over Malmo in the
Champions League on Wednesday.
The 30-year-old has not spoken publicly for
nearly six months after growing tired of the way his
comments and personal life were often reported.
However, after bringing up even more goalscoring
milestones, including moving level with Raul as Real's
all-time top scorer with 323, he decided the time was
right to end his silence.
“When I don’t speak with the press it’s because
something’s not going well,” he explained in an
interview with El Partido de las 12.
“Everyone can think what they want. I don’t speak with
the press more because the questions aren’t good, that’s
why. Why do you ask about things that happened five or
six months ago?
“Ask me about today, not things from a while ago. Why do
I always have to speak? I am not obliged to speak. If I
don’t speak, another [player] does.”
Ronaldo highlighted his latest goal scoring feats,
claiming he never imagined he would match club legend
Raul's record figure following his arrival from
Manchester United in 2009.
He added: “I’m really happy to become the [joint] record
goalscorer in the history of Madrid — it’s not something
I expected when I arrived. I am satisfied with the
record and I’ve already spoken with Raul. He phoned to
Finally, the Portuguese star stated that he is content
in the Spanish capital, although he refused to rule out
a possible move in the future.
“I don’t know what can happen, but in this moment I am
fine, I am happy here,” he responded to questions about
one day leaving the Santiago Bernabeu.
“My relationship with the manager [Rafa Benitez] and
with the president [Florentino Perez] is good. I’ve
always got on well with both of them. I’m good here, but
I don’t know what can happen in the future. I don’t
Mourinho: I'd forgotten what winning felt like!
The Blues boss says a much-needed victory in the
Champions League will give his side a boost ahead of
Saturday's clash with Arsenal
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho joked that he had
forgotten what winning felt like after watching the
Blues cruise to a 4-0 Champions League win over Maccabi
Tel Aviv at Stamford Bridge.
The Premier League champions went into the clash
having tasted victory just once this season, against
West Brom at the Hawthorns, and having lost their last
two games in a row.
Eden Hazard missed an early penalty for the Blues but
goals from Willian, Oscar, Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas
gave a much-changed Chelsea side a morale-boosting
"I forgot the feeling, for so long we don't win a game,
so good, it's a good feeling," Mourinho told reporters.
"The penalty we missed, I think, was a big test for us
because when everything goes against you, red cards,
penalties, decision, luck, injuries, and you start a
game you have to win and after five minutes you miss a
penalty I think it's a great test of the team's
"I think it was good we had an extra negative so I'm
happy with the performance and the result."
Chelsea now turn their attentions to Arsenal who they
welcome to Stamford Bridge on Saturday and Mourinho
feels victory was vital ahead of taking on the Gunners.
"I can imagine waking up tomorrow after a defeat, to
train at Cobham after a defeat, two days before a derby
against Arsenal, I can imagine how difficult it would be
for everyone after a defeat so the victory is very
important," he added.
"In the last two seasons we didn't start well at home -
against Basel and Schalke - we put ourselves in a
position where we have to go away and win points. In
this moment, these three points, give us a good
Defeats for Arsenal, Manchester United and City mean
Chelsea are the only English team to taste victory in
the Champions League so far this season but Mourinho
says that does not make him happy.
"No I think it's sad, I think it's bad. I'm not happy
with that. I want City, United, Arsenal to lose in the
Premier League, I don't want them to lose in the
Champions League," he explained.
"Season after season it's difficult for English teams to
be successful, when you can make 12 points and you make
only three it's bad news for the English game."
Pedro: Valdes gave me Van Gaal warning prior to Man Utd snub
winger has admitted his former team-mate told him his
only "problem" at Old Trafford was with the coach but
insists it did not influence his decision to choose
Pedro has revealed his Spain team-mate Victor Valdes
warned him of his "problem" of playing under Louis van
Gaal at Manchester United before he joined Chelsea.
The winger was linked with a move to Old Trafford
for much of the summer before Chelsea took advantage of
their rivals' indecision by completing a late deal.
And while United goalkeeper Valdes spoke highly of the
club and its supporters, Pedro admits he did not
recommend life under Van Gaal.
"He told me it was a very good club with great
supporters and the only problem was with the coach,"
Pedro told Marca.
Valdes has been left out of United's Champions League
squad following the collapse of David de Gea's move to
Real Madrid and Pedro believes his former Barcelona
team-mate is being treated unfairly.
"It is true that I do not like the treatment of my
[Spain] team-mates, especially Victor, who has been a
reference for me and is a model professional," he added.
"I don't think it's fair, but that did not influence my
decision [to join Chelsea].
"I just saw Man Utd wasn't convinced to take the step of
signing me, they were delaying a lot and I needed a team
with which to start the new season. Chelsea acted more
Messi wins Best Player in Europe award
28-year-old has picked up his first individual award of
the season after being handed the prize after the
Champions League group stage draw
Lionel Messi has won the Uefa Best Player in Europe
Award for the second time after beating Luis Suarez and
Cristiano Ronaldo to the prize.
The 28-year-old shone in the second half of last season
as he inspired Barcelona to the treble, with the club
lifting the Champions League, Copa del Rey and La Liga.
He was awarded the trophy after the group stage draw for
this year's Champions League and thanked his team-mates
in the aftermath of the event.
"It was an incredible year for us," he said. "I don't
know if there's a secret, the dressing room was united
and that made for an unforgettable year.
"Thanks to my team-mates, we are all represented. I
wouldn't be here if not for them and the club."
Messi finished level on goals with Real Madrid star
Ronaldo and Barcelona team-mate Neymar in Europe in
2014-15 - as all three men found the back of the net 10
His Champions League haul helped him to a final tally of
62 goals in 67 games in all competitions for club and
country, which means he is again likely to battle it out
with Ronaldo for the Ballon d'Or in January.
Messi first won the Uefa Best Player in Europe Award
back in 2011 on the back of helping the Catalans win yet
another European crown.
Messi wishes Pedro all the best at Chelsea
Argentine bid his friend farewell after confirmation
that the Spaniard would be ending his 11-year
association with Barcelona
arcelona star Lionel Messi has wished Pedro all the best
at Chelsea following the completion of the winger's €30
The 28-year-old ended a month-long transfer saga that
saw him linked heavily with Manchester United only for
Jose Mourinho's Blues to swoop in late to seal a
four-year deal at Stamford Bridge.
Messi, who has spent 11 years alongside Pedro on
Barcelona's books, reminded his Facebook followers of
the fond times he has spent with the Spaniard and wished
him well in the Premier League.
"We've shared really great moments in together over the
years," the Argentine forward wrote on his official
page. "Good luck in the new chapter of your life,
Pedro has won three Champions Leagues, five Liga titles
and three Copa del Rey trophies since first linking up
with the Catalans' senior squad in 2008.
The winger will go down in Camp Nou folklore for opening
the scoring in their fourth European title in 2010-11,
when they defeated Manchester United 3-1 at Wembley.
More recently, Pedro scored the winning, extra-time goal
in Barca's 5-4 Uefa Super Cup triumph.
Mourinho key to Chelsea move, says Pedro
28-year-old moved to Stamford Bridge despite weeks of
negotiations with Manchester United and now hopes to
match his trophy haul at Camp Nou with his new team
Pedro says Jose Mourinho was key to his move to Chelsea
having previously been close to joining Manchester
The 28-year-old arrived from Barcelona in a deal
worth up to £21.4 million (€30m) earlier on Thursday
after the Premier League champions had hijacked the Old
Trafford outfit's own attempts with an 11th-hour bid.
Pedro, who won 20 trophies during seven years in the
Barcelona first team, hopes to continue that success at
Stamford Bridge alongside international team-mates Diego
Costa, Cesc Fabregas and Cesar Azpilicueta.
"It's absolutely great to be here ... [Mourinho] is one
of the main reasons why I’m here. He phoned me a few
times and said he needed me to make the team stronger,"
he told the club's official website.
"He has won titles wherever he has been. I am really
looking forward to playing under him and hopefully
winning more titles.
"I spoke to Cesc. We are very good friends. I knew I
would feel at home here and that was one of the main
reasons why I decided to join.
"He's a great player, he's got brilliant vision and he
links up really well with the other attacking players. I
know we work well together on the pitch so I can't wait
to play with him again.
"I have also played with Diego Costa and Cesar
Azpilicueta before, for the national team, so I feel
very comfortable here.
"I do everything possible to win. I have helped
Barcelona win titles and I want to do exactly the same
thing at Chelsea, because ultimately we are all here to
Messi should have told Argentina to go to hell - Tevez
striker says criticism of his international team-mate is
over the top and praised his continued commitment to the
Carlos Tevez says he wouldn't play for Argentina again
if he was subjected to the same criticism as Lionel
Messi in his homeland.
The Barcelona star's performances for his country
during this summer's Copa America were slammed by
supporters, while Diego Maradona and coach Tata Martino
even questioned his commitment to the national side.
However, Tevez has hit out at his critics and praised
the 28-year-old for continuing to pull on the
Albiceleste shirt in light of his treatment.
"If I were Messi and had to listen to the criticism he
has had, I'd have told Argentina to go to hell," Tevez
told television channel America. "He has to really love
the Argentina shirt to keep coming back.
"You can criticise a player who didn't play well or who
wasn't fit for a match but you can't say he doesn't step
up or say awful things outside of football about him as
they have, you just can't.
"As a journalist, you have to give a message each day.
You can be in agreement or not, you can like a player or
not like him, but you can't kill him like that."
Messi has broken numerous goalscoring records for
Barcelona and won every major honour for his club but is
yet to win a major trophy with Argentina.
Neymar reveals the toughest defenders and best goal of his
Barcelona forward also named the three former stars he
wished he could have played alongside
Neymar has named Sergio Ramos as one of the toughest
defenders he has had to face during his career.
The Barcelona star described the Real Madrid
centre-back as "a great defender" when asked who he
considered to be the most difficult stoppers he has
Blaugrana team-mates Javier Mascherano and Gerard Pique
also earned Neymar's praise, along with countryman
"It's hard to say, there are so many top defenders," he
said during a Q&A session with Fifa TV. "Mascherano,
Pique, Thiago Silva, Sergio Ramos - he's a great
centre-back. There's a lot."
Neymar went on to highlight his goal for Santos against
Flamengo - a brilliant solo run which saw him win the
Fifa Puskas Award in 2011 - as the best in his career so
"I've already scored so many special goals that have
been significant for my career, and I'll never forget
any of them. But the one I'm going to choose is the goal
against Flamengo, the one that won me the Puskas award,"
The 23-year-old named Zinedine Zidane and former
strikers Romario and Ronaldo as three retired players
whom he would have loved to play alongside - but it is
another Brazilian forward he considers his idol.
"I always loved Robinho, ever since I was little, and I
had the pleasure of playing alongside him - not just at
Santos, but also with Brazil," he added.
"I'm a big fan of Romario, he's someone I'd have loved
to play with. Zidane, too. I just got to play with
Ronaldo once, in his very last game for Brazil, but I'd
have loved to play more with him.
"I think those three are the main ones I'd have liked to
Ronaldo & Ramos to return to Real Madrid training
defender and attacker have been plagued by injury
problems during the summer but will be fit for the start
of the new Liga season
Real Madrid duo Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos are
expected to return to full training on Tuesday, after
recovering from minor injury problems.
Ramos - who is yet to sign a new contract at the
Santiago Bernabeu following interest from Manchester
United - missed Sunday's friendly at Valerenga due to a
knock he suffered against Bayern Munich in last week's
Ronaldo, meanwhile, picked up a back problem prior to
the pre-season tournament in Germany, thus ruling him
out of the subsequent trip to Norway.
However, neither player was viewed as a doubt for the
start of Real's domestic campaign against Sporting Gijon
on August 23 and both are now set to join up with their
team-mates for training on Tuesday having worked on
their fitness at Ciudad Real Madrid.
The pair could now feature in the Santiago Bernabeu
Trophy against Galatasaray next Tuesday.
Mourinho: I'll manage for another 20 years
The Chelsea boss intends to extend his career for as
long as his health will allow as he aims to add to an
extensive trophy cabinet already boasting 18 major
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho could be around to challenge
Premier League opponents for another 20 years as he eyes
a long future in the game.
The Portuguese has won 18 major trophies and
counting in his managerial career but has no desire to
slow down as he looks to utilise his ever-growing
experience down the line.
"I see myself going into the seventies - not for ever
and ever but while my health is good," Mourinho told
"It is a job where experience is very, very important.
With players, there is a moment when their experience
has a fight with their physical condition. With
managers, no. Unless you lose your appetite then that is
a different story but I see myself now better than I was
10 years ago. I am in evolution, not even in stability."
The Blues manager is keen for his side to relish their
status as defending champions this season, expecting a
tougher fight in the Premier League as teams all across
the table bolster their squads with ambitious signings.
"Being champion doesn't change me for bad, it changes me
for good and hopefully with the players it is the same
thing," he continued. "I want them to feel good, not bad
- because we won last season, we do not have space for
"We go into the most difficult domestic competition in
the world. It has more candidates and more top teams and
I think [fewer] points will win the title [than last
season]. There will be more defeats and more lost points
for the top teams.
"Crystal Palace buy Yohan Cabaye and Connor Wickham. I
welcome this mentality. It is a great thing. It was
always difficult to win matches in England. I think that
now it is more difficult. I gave Crystal Palace as an
example but I could also give you Stoke, Newcastle and
"It is going to be more difficult now for all of us."
Ronaldo: I never thought I'd be a professional
Real Madrid sensation says he began to play football
simply out of enjoyment and did not consider himself a
Cristiano Ronaldo admits he never truly believed he
would become a professional footballer when he first
began to play the game as a child.
The Real Madrid and Portugal sensation began to
train with Andorinha on his home island of Madeira in
his youth, but says he never considered himself a
"In my family, we all love football. I remember
that one day I was playing in the street and my father
told me: 'Why don't you train at the club when I go to
work?'. I said yes, why not? So I started to play,"
Ronaldo told Herbalife.
"I went to train every day and I enjoyed being part of
the team. My father was always there for me.
"At first I felt I was different to the other children.
I never thought I was going to become a professional or
go to Manchester United, Real Madrid or Sporting.
"At that time I just wanted to enjoy it and it wasn't
going through my head that I had talent. At first I
didn't think that."
However, the former Old Trafford ace admits it took just
a few short years of training before he began to
visualise a career at the very top.
"After three or four years I started to think: 'I want
to play there'. I got to watch all of the matches and I
dreamed of wearing the shirts."
Ronaldo and Madrid face Tottenham in their latest
pre-season outing in the Audi Cup in Munich on Tuesday.
Xavi 'angry and sad' at Casillas treatment
The Spain legend has criticised Real Madrid for the way
they handled the departure of his friend and admits that
he will vote in the Barcelona presidential election
Barcelona legend Xavi says Real Madrid's treatment of
Iker Casillas over his departure has left "a bad taste"
in his mouth.
The goalkeeper, who won five league titles and
the Champions League three times during a 25-year period
at the Santiago Bernabeu that started when he was
nine-years-old, sat alone in Madrid's media room as he
announced his departure from the club on Sunday in an
emotional press conference.
The club were criticised for the way the announcement
was handled, which lead to them putting together a
last-minute tribute for the club icon.
Xavi, who praised his long-term friend in an article in
La Vanguardia this week, says that the handling of the
situation made him "sad and angry", insisting he
deserved more respect from the club.
"It leaves a bad taste in my mouth," the former Barca
player, who now plays for Al-Sadd, told RAC1. "I wrote a
letter stating my opinion. He didn’t deserve such a
tepid send-off; he deserved more.
"They held a tribute for him but he looked sad. It makes
me feel sad and angry that his farewell was like that.
Maybe last year the same would’ve happened to me.
"I left in the best way possible but Madrid didn’t lift
any trophies. Nevertheless, he deserved more."
Barcelona's presidential election is being held on
Saturday and Xavi has admitted that he plans to vote for
one of the candidates, with Joan Laporta and Josep Maria
Bartomeu seen as the favourites.
“I’ll go to vote; I like to participate in everything.
It’s a big day for the institution and the club, and the
more participants, the better," he said. "I’ll go with
my mother. We both know who we’re going to vote for;
I’ve known for a long time, but I won’t reveal my vote
because I think that has to be confidential, and more so
in my position.
"I don’t know what will happen because all four have had
a great campaign. The debate was very respectful and it
was a good image for Barca.
"Some candidates don’t want to be linked to Qatar and I
Messi and Neymar left out of Barcelona squad for US tour
The Copa America stars have been given an extended
holiday and will not travel with the rest of the team,
while Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal have been included
Barcelona have left the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar
and Javier Mascherano out of the squad for their
upcoming United States pre-season tour.
The Catalan side will play in the International
Champions Cup, in which they will take on LA Galaxy,
Manchester United and Chelsea as they travel through the
Luis Enrique named 24 players in the squad that will
travel across the Atlantic on Saturday, with Messi,
Neymar, Javier Mascherano, Claudio Bravo and Dani Alves
all missing, having been given extended holidays
following their Copa America exploits.
The coach has included new signings Arda Turan and Aleix
Vidal, who will not be able to play in a competitive
game for the club until January because of their
The full squad:
Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Jordi Masip, Jose Suarez, Gerard
Pique, Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets, Pedro, Andres
Iniesta, Luis Suarez, Rafinha, Marc Bartra, Douglas,
Jordi Alba, Sergi Roberto, Adriano, Thomas Vermaelen,
Jeremy Mathieu, Arda Turan, Aleix Vidal, Sandro, Munir,
Alen Halilovic, Sergi Samper and Gerard Gumbau.
Casillas: I'm committed to Porto
The goalkeeper bid a teary-eyed goodbye to Real Madrid
on Sunday but he insists that he is now happy to be at
the Estadio do Dragao
Iker Casillas says that he is fully committed to the
Porto cause - despite ongoing speculation that he never
wanted to leave Real Madrid.
The Blancos academy product was sat alone at the
Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday as he tearfully announced he
was leaving the Blancos, thus ending a 25-year
association with the Liga giants.
Casillas' parents have claimed that their son was
forced out by club president Florentino Perez, whom they
accused of leading a public smear campaign against the
The Blancos supremo denied this while sat alongside
Casillas at a hastily arranged farewell press conference
on Monday, insisting the World Cup winner wanted to
Casillas has refused to be drawn into the manner of his
exit but dismissed the suggestion that he does not want
to be at Porto.
"Nobody can doubt my effort or my commitment to my new
shirt," the 34-year-old shot-stopper told EFE.
"I will continue to work with the same enthusiasm and
the same desire.
"In just a few days here, I have already felt the love
and support of the fans on social networks, at the
airport, in the stadium and on the streets of Porto.
"My first impression is that these are unbeatable fans.
"I'm happy, excited and eager to start this new project.
Porto are one of the biggest clubs in Europe and
certainly the best team in Portugal."
Valdes hits back at Van Gaal
The Dutchman claimed that the former Barcelona
goalkeeper refused to play for the reserve team, but he
has now hit back at the Dutchman with a less than
cryptic Twitter post
Victor Valdes has hit back at Louis van Gaal, claiming
the Manchester United manager lacks respect.
Van Gaal criticised Valdes in a press conference
in Seattle, explaining his reasons for excluding the
former Barcelona No.1 from the tour party.
Yet the Spaniard has fired back at his boss on Twitter,
posting a picture of the Under-21 fixtures he played a
part in, along with an image of himself and his reserve
The Dutchman said on Wednesday: “Valdes is not selected
[for the tour] because he doesn't follow my philosophy.
The philosophy is how you play football and how you
maintain your match rhythm,” said Van Gaal.
"He refused last year to play in the second team. There
are a lot of other aspects in the philosophy how you
have to play like a goalkeeper at Manchester United.
"When you are not willing [to apply] the principles of
that philosophy there is only one way, and that is out.
"For us this is a big disappointment. We thought he
would follow our philosophy."
Valdes signed an 18-month contract in January but is in
talks with Valencia over a possible loan move.
Messi never disappoints, says Van Gaal
former Netherlands boss has praised the prolific
Argentine, before admitting he is eagerly anticipating
the friendly game against Barcelona
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has voiced his
admiration for Lionel Messi and hailed the Barcelona
star's consistency and humble attitude.
The 28-year-old is widely regarded as one of the
best players the game has ever seen and the Dutch coach
has nothing but praise for the Argentina international.
"Messi proves himself nearly every game," Van Gaal told
United's official TV channel.
"Despite his immense talent, he remains very modest. I
like that in him and I respect Messi a lot."
United meet Barcelona at the International Champions Cup
later this month and Van Gaal is looking forward to
meeting some old friends from his time at the Catalans,
while admitting Xavi and Andres Iniesta's success makes
"It will be nice to see friends from my time there
again, but there are a lot of new players," he added.
"I have to say that Barcelona still play with some
players that I coached, so that is nice to see. But a
lot of the staff have also remained there.
"Of course, you are always pleased that players who made
their debut under you play so many times and for so long
for a club. Xavi and Iniesta in particular are fine
examples, but Victor Valdes as well."
Messi: There's nothing more painful than losing a final
Argentina captain has sent a message of thanks to
supporters following their Copa America defeat to Chile
Lionel Messi has lamented how final heartbreak is a
football pain like no other in a mesaage of gratitude to
Messi, who skippered his national side to
extra-time defeat in the World Cup final against Germany
last summer, suffered another crushing loss for the
national side as Chile emerged victorious in the Copa
America showpiece after a penalty shootout.
The Barcelona ace has since expressed his thanks to fans
after another Argentina's 22-year wait for silverware
was extended by the host nation in Santiago.
"There's nothing more painful in football than losing a
final," he wrote on his official Facebook page.
"But I don't want to leave it any longer to say thank
you to everyone who has always supported us and
continued to during the tough moments."
Unconfirmed reports in Spain suggested Messi turned down
the award for the Copa America's best player following
The 28-year-old's family was also attacked in the stands
during the final at the weekend, while sections of the
Argentine press have been hugely critical of the
Rosario-born star and his team-mates after their latest
Messi family attacked at Copa America final
of the Argentina star's family were set upon by Chile
fans during the first half of the clash between the two
sides on Saturday
Members of Argentina star Lionel Messi’s family were
attacked by Chile fans during the first half of the Copa
America final between the two sides on Saturday evening.
The incident occurred just before half-time when
supporters of La Roja began to insult the Barcelona
The 28-year-old’s brother Rodrigo was hit by one fan
after an angry exchange and the whole family were moved
to a television cabin at half-time for their own safety.
The family of striker Sergio Aguero were also insulted
by a sector of the Chilean fans.
Messi, meanwhile, was handed some rough treatment by the
rival defenders at the Estadio Nacional and was struck
in the chest by a violent kick from defender Gary Medel
in the first half.
Casillas wants Porto move, says agent
experienced goalkeeper appears to be on his way out of
Madrid and seems set to continue his career in Portugal
Iker Casillas' agent Carlo Cutropia has revealed that
the goalkeeper is keen to leave Real Madrid for Porto
ahead of the 2015-16 campaign.
The 34-year-old's future at the Santiago Bernabeu
side is in doubt due to the club's desire to lure
Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea back to La
Liga, while Keylor Navas has also set his sights on the
No.1 jersey at Madrid.
Casillas is therefore open to a move away from the
Bernabeu and he is hopeful Madrid will allow him to join
"Casillas is pretty excited about the opportunity to
join Porto," his representative told Record.
"We hope Real Madrid will allow him to move on and give
him an easy exit."
The Spain international has made over 700 appearances in
all competitions for Madrid since breaking into the
first team in 1999-2000.
He has won five La Liga titles with Madrid, as well as
two Copa del Rey trophies, four times the Supercopa de
Espana, three Champions Leagues, two Uefa Super Cups,
the Fifa Club World Cup and the Intercontinental Cup.
His contract with Madrid is due to expire in June 2017.Milan
Messi under attack after the Copa final
Barcelona ace's international record is under attack
again, with the success-starved Albiceleste having lost
two major finals in the space of a year
Lionel Messi's father has defended his son against
claims that the forward's Argentina career must still be
classed a failure.
The four-time Ballon d'Or has long been touted as the
finest player of all time but there are those that
believe that he will always rank behind Pele and Diego
Maradona unless he tastes international glory.
Messi's appeared set to fulfil his apparent destiny at
last year's World Cup in Brazil but Argentina were
beaten in the final by Germany.
After a spectacular season at Barcelona, whom a
resurgent and fully fit Messi inspired to a treble, it
was thought that the 28-year-old was perfectly primed to
end his country's 22-year wait for a Copa America title.
However, Messi was unable to lead Argentina to victory,
with Gerardo Martino's men losing 4-1 on penalties to
hosts Chile in the tournament decider.
Consequently, the Rosario native's status is now being
questioned again within his homeland, much to the
annoyance of his father, Jorge.
"Many only understand failures and that forces them to
see their own failings in others," Messi Senior told
"Unfortunately, we live in a world of show and harsh
criticism sells better than constructive criticism.
"But Leo just plays football and stops worrying about
Jorge also revealed that Messi has always been a quiet,
humble, unassuming character - even if he did have
something of a mischievous streak as a child.
"Lionel grew and grew up in a family like any other in
Argentina, where everything is achieved with sacrifice
and respect," he added.
"Our culture, our country, is like this: everything is
achieved through sacrifice and that will forge your
"He never did anything mischievous when he was young
because he was always a good boy. Naughty, yes, but
"It was hard for him to leave [Argentina for Barcelona
at 13], but that has to do with what I have been saying:
We are a family that has managed to do things thanks to
Maldini: Messi & Barcelona will break all the records
Milan legend believes the Catalans' No.10 is destined
toleave a better legacy than Diego Maradona and lauded
the treble-winners' talent
Italian legend Paolo Maldini has predicted that Lionel
Messi and his current Barcelona comrades are destined to
“break all the records”.
In Luis Enrique's first season in charge at Camp
Nou, the Catalans won La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the
Champions League to complete the second treble in the
Having matched the achievements of Pep Guardiola's 2009
side, Maldini thinks Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez can
help Barca leave an even greater mark in the history
books in the coming campaigns.
"Messi, Neymar and Suarez are phenomenal and the
statistics speak for themselves," the iconic former
defender told Sky Sport.
"Barcelona have already made history and the team's
destined to break all the records."
Maldini, who won five European Cups and Champions League
titles during his illustrious AC Milan career, also
thinks that Messi could ultimately be considered better
than former Serie A and international adversary Diego
"Leo Messi is the best player in the world," he added.
"From what I'm seeing, he's approaching the point where
he is perhaps overtaking Maradona in terms of everything
he's achieved in recent years."
Ronaldinho has agreed to join Antalyaspor - president
club chief, Gultekin Gencer, says the club and the
player have agreed personal terms and the deal will be
official in the coming days
Ronaldinho has reached an agreement to join Antalyaspor,
the Turkish side's president has revealed.
The Brazil legend rescinded his contract with
Mexican side Queretaro and had been linked to a move to
The newly-promoted club are set to complete the signing
of Samuel Eto'o as well as the former Barcelona
attacker, and president Gultekin Gencer says there will
be another big transfer coming soon.
"We reached an agreement with Ronaldinho," he told TRT
Spor. "I think within two days it'll be made official.
"Besides Eto'o and Ronaldinho, we will make another
"When it's done, we'll set the world on fire!"
The attacker then appeared in an Instagram video,
telling fans: "Hi to everyone. I will be in Turkey with
Ramos staying at Madrid, says mother
on Monday claimed the defender had informed the club of
his desire to leave the club for Man United but his
parent says he wants to stay put
The mother of Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos has
denied speculation her son wants to join Manchester
There were widespread reports on Monday that the
defender had informed Madrid of his desire to move to
Old Trafford, with United said to have made a bid for
Ramos's discontent at the Bernabeu is believed to stem
from president Florentino Perez's failure to deliver on
his promise to reward him with a new and improved
But, in a fresh twist to the saga, the Spain
international's mother has revealed his intention
remains to stay at Madrid.
Paqui Ramos told Antena 3: "Of course, his first choice
is to stay at Madrid. Manchester United? I don't think
so, he wants to stay in Spain."
At the start of the month, Barcelona presidential
candidate Jordi Majo claimed he had been offered Ramos
by his agent as an 'electoral trump card'.
His representative later denied Majo's comments.
Aguero: Goals will come for gambler Messi
Argentina striker - a close friend of his compatriot -
says the Barcelona star is always striving to succeed
and commented on his Man City future
Argentina forward Sergio Aguero has lauded Lionel
Messi's goalscoring persistence as they bid to win the
Copa America together.
Aguero, 27, and Messi, 28, have played together
for a decade internationally - at youth and senior level
- winning the 2008 Olympics and the 2005 Under-20 World
Cup alongside each other.
Having come so close to World Cup glory last summer -
losing to Germany in the final in extra-time - Argentina
are now the clear favourites to win the Copa America
following the elimination of rivals Brazil.
Ahead of Tuesday's semi-final clash with the conquerors
of Dunga's side, Paraguay, Aguero has defended Messi
from criticism after the Barcelona attacker netted only
once in his side's first four matches in the South
"Messi always wants to do better and when he does not
score goals he starts saying 'I did not get lucky,'" he
told TyC. "But I tell him 'be quiet, the goals will
come, you have to be patient'.
"Leo is always under such pressure to score goals. It is
the same for me, though there are 10 other players in
the team than yourself.
"Obviously everyone can make mistakes, but Messi always
gambles and keeps going and going. And that gives us all
confidence, because if Leo keeps going then we do too."
Aguero, who has scored two of Argentina's four goals so
far in the Copa America, also downplayed suggestions
that he will depart Manchester City ahead of the 2015-16
"Every year I end up talking about my Manchester City
future," he added. "But I'm comfortable and at peace
there - I have not thought about going somewhere else."
Messi: I'll give everything to win Copa America
forward is set to win his 100th Argentina cap against
Jamaica and he is desperate to land major silverware
with his country
Argentina star Lionel Messi will "give everything" to
win Copa America 2015 ahead of his 100th cap for his
country versus Jamaica.
The Barcelona phenomenon has won a plethora of
honours at Camp Nou, triumphing in La Liga seven times,
the Copa del Rey on three occasions and the Champions
League four times.
However, success with Argentina has remained agonisingly
out of reach for the four-time Ballon d'Or winner - he
was part of the team that lost the 2007 Copa America
final to Brazil and captained his nation as they lost to
Germany in last year's World Cup final.
Gerardo Martino's men are on the cusp of a place in the
quarter-finals in this year's Copa in Chile and, as he
prepares to reach his century of appearances, Messi has
vowed to do everything he can to lead the side to pick
up the trophy at the end of the campaign.
"I would give everything win the Copa America," he told
La Nacion. "This group deserves it for the way they
fight. We had a great World Cup and we deserve it.
"It's what I dream of. Winning the Copa America would us
some give peace of mind for the coming World Cup
qualifiers. Not only for my team-mates, for the coach
and for me, but for the country, too. The fans also want
us to succeed."
Regarding his 100th cap - which will come in Saturday's
Group B contest against Jamaica barring a late injury -
Messi hopes that he will finally have some silverware to
go with his century of international appearances.
"I'm very happy to be here and hopefully I can celebrate
another victory and once and for all win a title with
Argentina," he added.
"In these 100 games I have had incredible experiences,
really great times. They are unforgettable.
"I've been through situations that have helped me grow
as a player, but unfortunately with no title to show for
it. Hopefully I'll have one to go with these 100 games."
Ronaldo criticises Neymar: He's going through a tough time
Brazil icon was not impressed with the 23-year-old's
conduct after the 1-0 defeat to Colombia, after which he
was sent off
Brazil legend Ronaldo has criticised Neymar after he
received a red card following his side's defeat to
Colombia in the Copa America.
Neymar will miss his side's final group game
against Venezuela and has been given a provisional
suspension on top of that for a red card he received
after the final whistle of the 1-0 loss.
The 23-year-old appeared to kick the ball at Colombia's
Pablo Armero and then seemingly attempted to headbutt
Jeison Murillo, which prompted a scuffle on the field.
Neymar defended his conduct by saying that referees wind
him up, but he got no sympathy from Ronaldo, who was not
impressed by the Selecao captain's conduct.
"It's not justified, what he has said and done," he said
on Globo. "Currently he is going through a tough time.
"He is acting very aggressively and he is not accepting
anything that happens.
"In the Brazil jersey, you cannot do that."
Barcelona can win the treble every year - Busquets
midfielder says the team are strong enough to dominate
domestically and in Europe for the foreseeable future
Sergio Busquets believes Barcelona are young and strong
enough to win the treble every season.
The Catalans won the Champions League, Copa del
Rey and La Liga last term to become the first side ever
to have lifted three major trophies in one season twice.
Barca first achieved the feat under Pep Guardiola back
in 2009 and Busquets says the current squad are capable
of doing it again in the coming years.
"The joy of winning is permanent, you cannot take it
away," he told El Pais.
"All you want is more, more, more. And we have players
of incredible quality, a super young team and a unique
opportunity to extend this level of performances.
"In the Champions League final, if you take away Dani
Alves, Javier Mascherano and Andres Iniesta, I don't
think there was anyone over 30-years-old in our team.
"Marc-Andre Ter Stegen is super young and Neymar, Jordi
Alba, and the rest - we are all between 23 and 28 years.
"We can win the treble every year, no one is invincible,
but we have huge potential."
The 26-year-old also discussed in detail the evolution
of Lionel Messi, who has operated in several different
positions this season having played in a central role in
"Messi is improving every year and there have been
tactical changes that have benefited the team and
benefited him in recent years - he played false nine for
a while and that caught our opponents by surprise and
generated more surprise because there was more space.
"Now, after moving to the wing he makes the field huge.
The diagonal passes from Alba, for example, are
spectacular. He has been reinvented. Leo evolves and
does so with the team. He is impossible to stop. He is
Xavi's lifelong association with Barcelona came to an
end after the season drew to a close, with the
midfielder signing for Qatari side Al Sadd and Busquets
admits life at Camp Nou won't be the same without him.
"I can't imagine the dressing room without Xavi, it's
going to be weird. His presence is remarkable. He would
arrive early and always say something to the group. We
will feel his absence."
Xavi: Extraordinary Neymar needs to show respect
iconic midfielder offered advice to his ex-club mate,
instructing him to think about how he behaves on the
pitch, but hailed him as a hard working and humble
Former Barcelona captain Xavi believes former team-mate
Neymar must think about how he acts on the pitch,
insisting that what is acceptable in Brazil does not go
down well in Europe.
The midfielder was referring to an altercation
Neymar found himself involved in during the final
minutes of the Catalans' 3-1 Copa del Rey final win over
Athletic Bilbao, when the Basque players had taken
offence at a piece of extravagent skill he attempted.
And Xavi used the example to question the 23-year-old's
mentality, stating the young Brazilian had to cut out
the elements of his game that simply were not tolerated
in the European arena.
"He needs to seriously think about how he should act.
Maybe that sort of thing is accepted in Brazil, but it's
a thorny issue in Spain," Xavi told Sport .
"He should reflect about it because he's an
extraordinary, hard-working and humble lad, but he has
that Brazilian attitude, according to which such things
are part of the show, while here they're seen as a lack
Neymar has not only been accused of unsporting behaviour
during his stint in Spain by opponents but team-mates as
well, with Xavi himself caught on video berating the
forward while Barcelona celebrated winning their treble
with an open top bus parade on Sunday.
"He was trying to take my shoes off and they were
pushing me when I was standing on the edge of the bus. I
told them to stop messing around and to focus on the
fans, since the parade is for them," he added.
"It's alright to have three or four beers, but the
parade is for the supporters, to thank them, and you
can't just be in your own world."
Copa America win would make up for World Cup, says Messi
Argentina captain wants to erase the memory of last
summer's World Cup final defeat to Germany and claimed
he would pay just to watch several of their opponents
Argentina talisman Lionel Messi claims winning the Copa
America in July would erase the memory of their 2014
World Cup final loss to Germany.
The Albiceleste skipper is currently in Chile
preparing for their tournament opener against Paraguay
on Saturday and expects his team to justify their tag as
one of the favourites to claim the trophy.
Importantly, the 27-year-old is hoping to exorcise the
memory of Argentina's defeat on penalties in the World
Cup final a year ago and acknowledged his incredible run
of form in recent months.
"I’d love to win the Copa America for everything it
would mean for us after enjoying a spectacular World Cup
and coming so close," Messi told reporters.
"This Argentina generation wants to win and we’re aware
that we are the favourites. As a team, we deserve to win
something. We know that it would be the best thing ever
to end the season by lifting the Copa America.
"I don’t know if this has been my best year, but I feel
fine myself, and very happy. With the national team we
are all in good shape and we have some great players who
can help us to achieve what we want.
"We’re going into this in better shape than we did at
the World Cup because we had a few players injured. It’s
important for us, and for Argentina because it’s been a
while since we last won it."
The star is also hoping he and his compatriots at
Barcelona will be carried into the Copa America by the
momentum of securing a treble with the club.
"We [Barcelona] won every competition we entered and
it’s incredible to do the treble again," he continued.
"Thankfully, we were able to fulfil our objectives with
our club and hopefully we can now gain more success with
the national team which is what we all want.
"But all of our rivals are going to be difficult; this
is one of the closest tournaments in a long time. I love
good football and would pay to watch Brazil, Colombia
Apart from Paraguay, Argentina have been drawn with
holders Uruguay and Jamaica in Group B.
Pique thanks Ronaldo's party singer as Barcelona celebrate
centre-back could not resist taking a swipe at Real
Madrid after Sunday's parade, while Luis Enrique paid
tribute to Xavi
Barcelona defender Gerard Pique thanked Cristiano
Ronaldo's party guest Kevin Roldan as the Catalans
celebrated winning the treble on Sunday.
Ronaldo caused huge consternation among Real
Madrid fans when he opted to go ahead with his 30th
birthday celebrations hours after his side were thrashed
4-0 by Atletico Madrid in Feburary.
Colombian singer Roldan, who performed at the event,
insisted afterwards that the reaction had been over the
top, after fans became incensed when photos of some
Blancos players partying circulated on social media.
Barca went on to beat Madrid to the Liga title and
sealed an incredible treble when they won the Champions
League on Saturday and, as the team paraded their
successes to supporters on Sunday, Pique could not
resist a swipe at his side's bitter rivals.
"We are the best team in the world! Thanks to all and
thanks to Kevin Roldan, it all started with you," he
told dans at Camp Nou.
Head coach Luis Enrique thanked the supporters for
sticking by the team during their difficult start to
2015 and paid tribute to Xavi, who is now bound for
"The ambition of these players has no limit," Luis
Enrique said. "You and I know it has not been an easy
path, with a lot of difficulties.
"We asked for your support when things went wrong and
that was what happened, you have been with us. Thank
you. We keep making history and we'll try to do it again
in the future.
"Xavi is a great player, but also a great person, he has
always given his support to the team."
Xavi himself added: "We have the treble! Thanks for your
presence here at the stadium and in the parade... It has
been amazing. Thanks to Luis Enrique, to the staff and
also to the team for this season. Thanks a lot, I'll
Andres Iniesta, the man of the match in the 3-1 final
win over Juventus, gave a special mention to his home
town as well as Catalunya on the whole.
"I feel very proud to belong to this team.
Congratulations to the team, to the club. Visca Barca,
visca Catalunya and visca Fuentealbilla."
Cruyff: Messi saved Barcelona against Juventus
Dutch legend argued the Argentine had been instrumental in the Champions League
final despite not scoring or setting up any goals
Johan Cryuff believes Barcelona could not have beaten Juventus 3-1 in the
Champions League final without their talisman Lionel Messi showing off the
selfless aspects of his game.
Messi was expected to show up decisively in the Berlin final but failed to
score, while Ivan Rakitic, Luis Suarez and Neymar all found the net as Juventus
even managed to shut the Argentine down for long spells of the game.
But Cruyff argued it was the other side of the four time Ballon d'Or winner that
the world witnessed on Saturday, with his work and sacrifice for the team being
fundamental to the Catalans' eventual success.
"It was a fun Champions League final to watch, also because Barcelona and
Juventus both played as we all expected," the Dutchman, who won the European Cup
with Barca as coach, wrote in De Telegraaf.
"With his style of play, Messi relieved his team. Against Juventus, you could
see how he works at Barcelona.
"You didn't see him participate in a lot of moves, but just check how often he
put pressure on his direct opponent and won back ball posession. How many
free-kicks did he win?"
The 68-year-old saw Netherlands surrender a 3-1 lead to lose 4-3 to the United
States in Amsterdam on Friday and he blamed the defeat on the lack of the very
team spirit amongst the players that Messi displayed the following day.
"I missed that sense of sacrifice during the Netherlands' loss to America.
Playing means to help other players, instead of causing problems for your own
Neymar: Dani Alves would have a new deal if I was Barcelona
forward is surprised his team-mate has not been tied
down and thinks the Champions League final against
Juventus will be their toughest game of 2014-15
Neymar has claimed he would have given Dani Alves a new
contract by now if he was Barcelona's president.
The right-back, 32, and the Catalans are engaged in what
Paris Saint-Germain boss Laurent Blanc has called “a
game” as the player awaits a proposal he likes from his
Neymar, who has been team-mates at Camp Nou with Alves
for two years and also played alongside the defender
with Brazil, has given his backing to the player
described by Lionel Messi as the best full-back on the
"I hope that Dani Alves stays," the 23-year-old told Sky
Sport. "If I was the president I would have renewed his
Ahead of Saturday's season climax in the Champions
League final, Neymar has acknowledged the threat
Juventus will pose
"We know Juventus, we know they are a top team and they
have not qualified for the final by chance," he
continued. "It will be a difficult game and we will try
to give the best version of ourselves.
"I think this will be the most difficult game of the
whole season, but we want to make history and we are
close to doing so.
"Head coach Luis Enrique has dedicated several days to
studying our opponent and we are preparing for it in the
best way possible.”
He added: "If we win the Champions League, I will die my
Neymar has scored 38 goals in 50 games for Luis
Enrique's side this season, contributing to a new
Spanish league record with his team-mates Lionel Messi
and Luis Suarez, leading to suggestions they are the
best attacking trio of all-time.
"I don't know if with Messi and Luis Suarez we are the
best trident, but we have entered into the history books
and for me it is a great honour to be part of it," he
Jerzy Dudek claimed the coach singled out the former Real
Dudek claimed the coach singled out the former Real
Madrid midfielder as a potential leak during his time at
the Bernabeu, but the Chelsea boss is baffled
Jose Mourinho insists he is baffled by suggestions from
Jerzy Dudek that he said Esteban Granero might be a
“rat” in an expletive-filled rant during his time at
The Polish goalkeeper claimed in a new book that
the now-Chelsea boss went into a wild, accusatory rage
when his plans to play Pepe in midfield against
Barcelona in 2011 were leaked to the press.
After drawing the Clasico 1-1, an angry Mourinho is
alleged by Dudek to have labelled current Real Sociedad
midfielder Granero as one of the potential leaks.
However, the Portuguese coach does not understand where
the claims have come from and questioned what purpose
Dudek's anecdote has in his soon-to-be-released book.
"Don't make me laugh," Mourinho responded when Marca put
the quotes in question to him. "Dudek really said that?
Granero is a great professional and a lifelong friend of
"What do you say the book is about? About training
goalkeepers? And what is he out to do, transmit his
experience to the children that are dreaming of being
Mourinho has also distanced himself from a possible move
for Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann. The
Frenchman has been rumoured to be one of Chelsea's
summer targets as they look to rejuvenate their Premier
League title-winning squad, but the Portuguese coach has
dismissed such claims.
"Griezmann is a great attacker but he is not one of our
targets to strengthen the squad for next season," he
added. "We're not interested in him."
Maradona: Messi the best in the world but my goals were more
Messi the best in the world, but my goals were more
beautiful - Maradona
The Argentine legend says that while his compatriot is
more prolific, he was a more stylish and spectacular
Diego Maradona says Lionel Messi is currently the best
player in the world, but insists his own goals were
“more beautiful” than those of the Barcelona star.
The Argentine legend, who played for the Catalan
club, as well as the likes of Napoli and Boca Juniors
during a glittering career, is often been labelled as
the greatest ever to play the sport.
And while he believes his countryman is the best there
is in the modern game, rating him above Real Madrid ace
Cristiano Ronaldo, he says that Messi is still
developing as a footballer.
“I think the goals come with the style. I think Messi is
finding his own style, but he is killing it with the
goals. This makes you accelerate the pace. Most likely,
he will find his style very soon,” Maradona told CNN.
“I think that I had my own style from the very
beginning, so that is the point at which I could be
better than Messi. But Messi has scored 300 goals,
whereas I think I scored a little over 200 in my whole
“But the thing is, my goals were more beautiful!”
Messi scored two goals in Barcelona’s 5-3 aggregate
victory over Bayern Munich, which saw them book a spot
in the Champions League final against Juventus.
Carlo Ancelotti suspended for remainder of Liga season
With the news that their coach will not be in the dugout
for either of the final two games of the season, winning
La Liga just got a little harder for the capital side
Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti will miss the
remainder of the Liga season after being handed a
two-match suspension by the Spanish Football Federation
The sanction was related to the ironic applause
Ancelotti is alleged to have directed at officials
during his side’s 2-2 draw with Valencia on Saturday.
Ancelotti was found by the RFEF to have violated Article
117 of the Disciplinary Code, which states that those
who "address referees, managers or officials in terms or
attitudes of contempt or disregard … are punishable by
Referee Carlos Clos Gomez’s report read: “At the end of
the match the local coach Don Carlo Ancelotti, from 30
metres, turned to me applauding, ostensibly in
disapproval with the officials' performance.”
The 55-year-old is now set to miss his side’s remaining
Liga fixtures against Espanyol and Getafe, in which the
reigning European champions will attempt to overhaul
Barcelona’s four-point lead at the top of the table.
Real Madrid host Juventus on Wednesday hoping to
overturn a 2-1 first-leg deficit to book a place in the
Champions League final against Barcelona in Berlin on
Goal has learned that Real Madrid will appeal the
Bayern stars losing faith in Guardiola, says Matthaus
The Bavarians have lost their last four games in all
competitions and the Germany legend believes the players
are beginning to run out of patience with their coach's
Former Bayern Munich stalwart Lothar Matthaus believes
the current crop of Allianz Arena stars are losing faith
in coach Pep Guardiola's methods.
The 44-year-old has led the Bavarians to
back-to-back Bundesliga titles since arriving in Germany
two years ago, but has failed to have the desired impact
in the Champions League.
His side were beaten 5-0 on aggregate to Real Madrid in
the semi-finals last term and face a similar fate 12
months on after losing 3-0 to Barcelona in the first leg
of their last four tie last week.
On Sunday Bayern legend Franz Beckenbauer claimed
Guardiola had paid the price for allowing Xherdan
Shaqiri to leave the club in January and now Matthaus
has added to his list of critics.
"Guardiola has already said that their season is over
and he's been rotating his team so much that he's
unsettling the team," he told Sky Deutschland.
"His team no longer has the stability they had for over
eight months, enchanting football fans up and down
"It seems the players are losing a bit of belief in the
coach, and he hadn't expected that."
In addition to their likely Champions League exit,
Bayern crashed out of the semi-finals of the DFB-Pokal
to Borussia Dortmund on penalties and have lost their
last four games in all competitions.
'Messi the greatest club player of all time' - Carragher
The former England international believes that the
Argentine's consistency over the past decade puts him
above the likes of Alfredo di Stefano, Diego Maradona
and Johan Cruyff
Liverpool icon Jamie Carragher believes that
Lionel Messi has proven himself the best club player of
The Argentine is the talk of the football world once
again, after a stunning two-goal salvo in Barcelona's
3-0 victory over Bayern Munich in the first leg of their
Champions League semi-final at Camp Nou on Wednesday.
Numerous ex-players were quick to argue that the
four-time Ballon d'Or winner's stunning performance
offered conclusive proof that the diminutive No.10
deserves to be recognised as the finest talent the game
has ever seen.
Carragher feels that an argument could still be made
that Messi needs to lift the World Cup to be ranked No.1
but the former England international is in no doubt that
the 27-year-old has surpassed all others at club level.
"His achievements over the last decade have been so
breathtaking that you could say he has outstripped those
who have gone before — and it is quite possible we will
never see them bettered," he wrote in The Daily Mail
"The men with whom we are comparing him are gods — Diego
Maradona, Johan Cruyff, Franz Beckenbauer and Alfredo di
Stefano. Pele doesn’t enter the debate. He won 10 league
titles and two Copa Libertadores with Santos but I feel
European competition has always been more competitive.
"It gets said that the standards in La Liga are not
taxing for him and Cristiano Ronaldo but look at Messi’s
record in the Champions League: he now has an
astonishing 77 goals — two of which defined finals
against Manchester United in Rome (2009) and at Wembley
(2011) — in just 97 games. His consistency is
"He has taken Barcelona to heights they had never known.
During his time, they have turned one European Cup into
four with the promise of a fifth in Berlin next month.
They have also dominated Spanish football and a sixth
league title in 10 years is within their grasp.
"I understand the game is now not as physical as it used
to be in the days of Maradona and Cruyff but they never
had to endure the scrutiny and exposure that comes with
today’s game, the constant analysis of performances and
the pressure to produce results, which Messi has to deal
"The job of facing the 27-year-old, who is now scoring
50 or 60 goals a season from his free role, however, is
now the most difficult in football, as the unfortunate
Jerome Boateng found out to his cost on Wednesday.
"Quite simply, Messi has been the greatest player in the
best club team we have ever seen."
Messi's double against Bayern saw him reclaim the
all-time Champions League goalscoring record from Real
Madrid ace Cristiano Ronaldo.
Guardiola: I've never been so proud of my players
The coach refused to blame his players after watching
them crash out of the DFB-Pokal at the semi-final stage
Pep Guardiola says Bayern Munich should not feel any
shame after they lost to Borussia Dortmund in the
DFB-Pokal semi-final on Tuesday.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's 75th minute goal cancelled
out Robert Lewandowski's opener to take the game into
Both sides failed to find a winner and so a penalty
shoot-out ensued, with Dortmund emerging victorious
after Bayern missed all four of their spot-kicks, while
Ilkay Gundogan and Sebastian Kehl converted for BVB.
"I am proud of my team. In fact, I have never been this
proud of my players," Guardiola told Sky.
"We played very well. It was the best game we have
played against Dortmund since I arrived at Bayern.
"This is nothing to be ashamed of. We lost a football
match. To be ashamed would need something worse.
"This does not mean anything for the Barcelona game.
That is a new match and a new competition."
Arjen Robben made his return from injury after a month
on the sidelines when he came on in the 71st minute, but
had to be replaced less than 15 minutes later with a
thigh injury, while Robert Lewandowski was also
substituted with a head injury.
"Arjen is injured, Thiago picked up a knock and Lewy
needs to go to hospital with a concussion. I don't know
if Lewandowski will play against Barcelona," Guardiola
Luis Enrique: Barcelona can get even better
Despite beating Getafe 6-0 on Tuesday night, the coach
feels his team can still improve on the physical and
tactical side of their game
Luis Enrique believes Barcelona have the attacking power
to beat any side in the world but is convinced they can
still get even better after dispatching Getafe 6-0.
The win stretched their lead at the top of La
Liga to five points over Real Madrid, who have played a
game less as they meet Almeria on Wednesday.
Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez scored two goals each while
Neymar and Xavi also found the net as the Blaugrana
produced a blistering performance, but the coach feels
they can get even better physically and tactically.
"When the team is that effective, we make it very
difficult for any opponent," he told reporters. "It was
a tough game but we finished it in the first half.
"If you look at the physical side of our game, it can be
improved and so can the tactical side. I do not remember
a match with so many spectacular goals.
"There is room for improvement, certainly, but in
matters of results it is complicated."
Tuesday's win was the side's 20th league clean sheet and
Luis Enrique believes it shows the overall strength of
"Not only does the team score, but they are all so
supportive that they help with the defensive work and
all we are playing at an extraordinary level."
'Ibrahimovic is a stupid, big-headed, flat-track bully'
ex-Nantes goalkeeper says that the Swede is as "thick as
two short planks" adding that PSG must sell him if they
are to progress to the next level
Former France international Jean-Paul Bertrand-Demanes
says Paris Saint-Germain should get rid of Zlatan
Ibrahimovic, arguing that the striker is nothing more
than a "stupid, "big-headed", "flat-track bully" who
needs "a good slap".
PSG had not been champions of France since 1994 when
Ibrahimovic joined the capital club from AC Milan in the
summer of 2012 for an estimated fee of €20 million.
The Sweden international has since fired the Parc des
Princes outfit to back-to-back Ligue 1 titles, while
they are currently on course to record a domestic
However, Bertrand-Demanes says that Ibrahimovic is
actually holding PSG back, claiming that while the
33-year-old is capable of running riot in Ligue 1, he
does not deliver in the Champions League, with Laurent
Blanc's men having been swept aside by Barcelona in the
quarter-finals earlier this month.
The ex-Nantes goalkeeper also says that Ibrahimovic does
not have the requisite intelligence to play alongside a
striker, as underlined by the fact that PSG forward
Edinson Cavani often has to play wide to accomodate his
team-mate through the middle.
"I don't like Ibrahimovic," Bertrand-Demanes told
L'Equipe. "He is so big-headed. The problem is people
make him think he's intelligent, but he's as thick as
two short planks.
"He's not a caricature but not far off; he's a
flat-track bully. You can be big-headed when you're
[Luis] Suarez or [Lionel] Messi and score goals against
Bayern Munich or Real Madrid.
"I'm sorry but, if you only score a hat-trick against
Nancy... If PSG want to progress they need to get rid of
him. He is a problem for PSG.
"You can't ask him to accept playing up-front alongside
someone because he's too stupid."
Bertrand-Demanes then took aim at France international
Florian Thauvin, lashing out at the attacking midfielder
for the way in which he forced through a move from Lille
to Marseille last summer by effectively going on strike.
"[Ibrahimovic] is like Thauvin," he added. "They both
need a good slap."
"When you see what Thauvin did to Lille to go to OM, you
"These people have chick peas for brains and treat
others like idiots."
Verratti: Messi more beautiful to watch than Ronaldo & Hazard
Italy international thinks the Argentine is the toughest
opponent he has faced and says he would love to emulate
Andrea Pirlo in his career
Paris Saint-Germain star Marco Verratti says Lionel
Messi is the toughest player he has faced and the most
captivating to watch, ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo and
The Ligue 1 champions have faced Barcelona three
times in this season's Champions League alone, with
Messi helping the Catalans to a 3-1 win at Parc des
Princes on Wednesday.
Though he missed that match through suspension, Verratti
is in no doubt that the Argentine is the best opponent
he has ever faced, ahead of Real Madrid sensation
Ronaldo and Chelsea favourite Hazard, formerly of Lille.
"Yes, the toughest and the most beautiful to watch," he
told L'Equipe when asked if Messi was his sternest
"I have played against greats, like Ronaldo and Hazard.
But I love watching Messi's touch of the ball, his
Verratti has regularly been earmarked as Italy's
long-term successor to Juventus stalwart Andrea Pirlo
and the 22-year-old says he would love to emulate the
"Our style of play is still a bit different," he said
when asked if he agreed with the comparisons.
"Pirlo has won everything: the World Cup, the Champions
League... it's a great honour to be compared to him. I
hope to have his career."
The former Pescara youngster also admits is habit of
attempting to play out of danger has landed him in
trouble with his team-mates in the past.
"There are times when it is worth taking risks," said
Verratti. "That's my style of play. If you lose the ball
in those few seconds, it's dangerous, but if you succeed
you can damage your opponent.
"At the beginning, yes [they reproached me]. Thiago
Silva, among others. But now they often tell me to keep
doing it because it helps the defenders or attackers
retrieve the ball."
Finally, Verratti said the backing from PSG's supporters
has left him convinced he made the right decision to
join the club in 2012 - but refuted the idea that he has
already become 'the boss' of Laurent Blanc's midfield.
He continued: "In football today, there is no boss.
Football has changed - you need a great team, not just
one player. No one can make the difference alone.
"I didn't expect it here because there are great
champions here and I'm abroad. When you hear your name
like that, in the stadium, it makes you think you made
the right choice to sign. The best way to thank the fans
is to play as much as possible and stay as long as
Clasico defeat will help Madrid - Ancelotti
Despite losing the game, the Italian felt his side at
least returned to their normal playing style after
several weeks of poor performances
Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti says the club's Clasico
defeat to Barcelona will ultimately prove to be a
The Italian's side were beaten 2-1 at Camp Nou on
March 22 but the former AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain
boss saw big improvements in his team from previous
Madrid have disappointed since the turn of the year,
which has allowed Barca to leapfrog them at the top of
La Liga and open up a four-point gap.
But Ancelotti believes his players are slowly returning
to something like their normal selves and says the
defeat to their arch-rivals will benefit them in the
He said: "The defeat was hard, but the sensations were
good because they returned to play as we wanted and as
we know. That will help us win more in the future."
Madrid overcame Schalke in the last-16 of the Champions
League to set up a quarter-final tie with Atletico
Madrid and Ancelotti admitted retaining the trophy is
"As I always say, the first objective is to reach the
Champions League final and the second is overcome the
opposition in the final.
"This Real Madrid has all the conditions to compete at
all levels in all competitions, so the goal is to win."
Guardiola: I am not the best coach in the world
The Bayern coach remains modest irrespective of all the
praise and has admitted that a crucial period awaits as
the Bavarians dream of the treble
Pep Guardiola has dismissed suggestions that he is the
best coach in the world as he feels the players are the
ones making the difference in the end.
The Bayern Munich boss is widely regarded as one
of the best tacticians in the game, yet he remains
humble despite all the praise.
"I am not the best coach in the world," Guardiola said
at a press conference. "I am only here to help my
"I am very motivated and have a lot of faith in my
Guardiola then went on to admit that a crucial period
awaits Bayern as they aim to secure the treble this
"I am going through the most difficult period at Bayern
since I got here," the former Barcelona trainer stated.
"These next few months are a huge challenge to me.
"April is a decisive month. Every game is like a final.
The players must understand that we demand even more
now. We are the ones to blame if we don't win."
The Catalan also had his say on Saturday's Bundesluga
encounter with Borussia Dortmund, insisting that expects
a tight affair even though BVB currently sit 10th in the
standings, 31 points behind his table-toppers.
"The game against Dortmund is still a Klassiker,
regardless of their position in the table," Guardiola
added. "BVB have a great team.
"I expect them to play attacking football, but I want us
to dominate. I think it will be a great game."
Nedved: Real Madrid not as strong as Barca & Bayern
Blancos won the 2013-14 Champions League but they have
suffered a dramatic dip in form since the turn of the
Juventus director Pavel Nedved says that Barcelona and
Bayern Munich are the best teams in Europe, claiming
that Real Madrid are not as strong as they were last
Madrid won the 2013-14 Champions League,
defeating Bayern 5-0 on aggregate in the last four
before beating city rivals Atletico 4-1 in the final.
Carlo Ancelotti's men embarked upon a 22-winning streak
in all competitions this term but their form has dipped
dramatically since the turn of the year, with Los
Blancos losing top spot in La Liga to Barca and only
scraping into the quarter-finals of the Champions League
by edging out Schalke 5-4 on aggregate after a shock
second-leg loss at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Consequently, when it comes to weighing up the
respective merits of those involved in the race for this
season's European Cup, Nedved feels that there are two
"It's good [for Juve] to have avoided Barcelona and
Bayern Munich, who are the best teams in Europe at the
moment," the former Ballon d'Or winner told El Mundo
"Real Madrid are not at the level of last year. But
everything can change very quickly."
Juve will face Monaco in the last eight after the Ligue
1 outfit sneaked into the quarter-finals thanks to a
victory on away goals over Arsenal, whose 2-0 success in
the principality nearly overturned a 3-1 first-leg
However, Nedved says he saw enough during the
principality club's win at the Emirates to suggest that
they can cause the Bianconeri problems.
"Obviously there were more famous possible opponents we
could have drawn, but we must not underestimate Monaco,"
the Czech added.
"They went dangerously close to being knocked out at
home, but they impressed me against Arsenal in London."
Pedro: Barcelona exit talk is logical
The forward describes his situation at Camp Nou this
season as "difficult" and feels speculation linking him
with a departure is a natural consequence
Barcelona attacker Pedro has admitted rumours he could
leave the club are only logical due to his lack of
Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez are firmly
established as Luis Enrique's first choice options in
attack at Camp Nou and the Masia graduate has been
pushed to the sidelines, making just 12 league starts so
far this season.
Pedro has been linked with a move to England and
acknowledges it is only normal for observers to believe
he will leave Barca this summer.
"When you do not have a lot of playing time, of course
you do not feel like one of the important players," he
told Al Primer Toque.
"When you play few games, not many minutes, it is normal
that there can be talk of leaving. That is logical.
"It is the same for all players; everyone wants to play.
When you do not play in important games, then it is a
"There is a lot of talk at the moment. I am relaxed but
it is difficult."
However, Pedro's focus is on securing silverware before
the end of the current campaign. Barca sit top of La
Liga and will face Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions
League last eight, with a Copa del Rey final against
Athletic Bilbao also to look forward to.
He continued: "The most important thing is to remain
calm and finish the season well. I hope I can help the
team. There is no decision yet and at the moment I am
with the club."
Ex-One Direction star Zayn Malik invited to Finn Harps
singer is now without a band, but clearly has plenty of
options to keep boredom at bay, including a
complimentary night at Finn Park
League of Ireland First Division club Finn Harps have
made ex-One Direction star Zayn Malik an enticing offer
ahead of their clash against Cobh Ramblers on Friday.
With the singer now without a band, the
Donegal-based club are keen to alleviate any boredom by
offering the 22-year-old free entry to Finn Park as well
as a delicious 50 per cent off the price of soup, should
he require warming up in midst of the cold Irish spring.
The One Direction ensemble are more renowned for their
attendance at games in more salubrious surroundings, but
this is an offer Malik would be foolish to miss and who
knows, with Louis Tomlinson previously striking up a
rapport with Doncaster Rovers, Malik could re-launch his
career in the League of Ireland!
Henry: Messi was treated differently for his infamous handball
ex-Arsenal and Barcelona star is still bitter he was so
heavily criticised for the role he played in France
earning a spot at World Cup 2010
Thierry Henry says the reaction to his infamous handball
against Republic of Ireland was unfairly hysterical,
claiming that when Lionel Messi was involved in a
similar incident, he was labelled "a genius", whereas it
was if he had "killed someone".
The former France international used his hand to
control a cross during the second leg of his country's
2010 World Cup qualification play-off with the Irish in
Paris before teeing up William Gallas for a goal that
saw Les Bleus book their berth in South Africa courtesy
of a 2-1 aggregate win.
Henry was vilified for his perceived dishonesty both by
the press and his peers but he pointed out that former
Barcelona team-mate Messi did not have his character
called into question after scoring with the aid of his
hand in a game against Espanyol in 2007.
“You are talking about people I spent so many times on
the pitch with," he told Canal Plus.
"I just said to them, ‘Yes, it was hand, I’m sorry.’ And
you know what? They told me: ‘We don’t blame you.’
“I saw Liam Brady, the Arsenal legend, and he asked me:
‘Did you touch it with your hand?’ And I answered, ‘Yes,
it was my hand.’ I spoke to the press that night. I
could have ignored them but I didn’t.
"I spoke honestly - it was a reflex. A reflex by a
competitor, just like when you reach out for the ball on
the line when your goalkeeper is beaten.
“When I see Messi scoring against Espanyol, diving to
touch the ball with his hand, people say, ‘What a
genius, now he is closer than ever to Maradona.’ But
when it was me, it was like I had killed someone.”
Henry also dismissed the suggestion that his decision to
leave Barca for MLS outfit New York Red Bulls just six
months after the handball incident was in any way
influenced by the flak he received in his native France
for the alleged act of poor sportsmanship.
“I have always wanted to go there [to the United
States]," the Arsenal icon added.
"Anyone who knows me would tell you that. Also, to
escape what? To escape who? I wanted to go as soon as
2009, but I didn’t because I kept playing with the
national team. That is total rubbish.”
'Ronaldo must face ban or fine for Clasico celebration'
chief Javier Tebas believes the Real Madrid forward
should be punished for gesturing towards Barcelona fans
after his goal in Sunday's Clasico
Cristiano Ronaldo's provocative celebration in the
Clasico “must” see him face a fine or suspension,
according to La Liga president Javier Tebas.
The Real Madrid forward taunted the Camp Nou
crowd with a 'calm down' gesture after scoring the
equaliser in Sunday's clash with Barcelona, although
Jeremy Mathieu's opener was eventually added to by Luis
The LFP chief is adamant players should not bate
opposition fans in the way that Ronaldo did and says he
will push for the Portugal international to be
"We have to be careful with provocative gestures by a
player when he scores a goal or with any other
provocation or conduct that could incite violence among
spectators,” Tebas told reporters.
“It must be sanctioned, from a fine up to a suspension.
We will look into it."
If the LFP decide to suspend Ronaldo for one match then
he will be absent for their first clash after the
international break at home to Granada, though a harsher
ban could see him miss games with Rayo Vallecano and
In addition to criticising Ronaldo, Tebas also
questioned Real Madrid's reluctance to allow the Copa
del Rey final between Athletic Bilbao and Barcelona to
be played at the Santiago Bernabeu later this season.
“I wish it were the Bernabeu,” he added. “However, it is
the decision of the club and we must respect their
decision not to allow it, for whatever reason.”
Real Madrid were eliminated from the Copa del Rey at the
last-16 stage by Atletico, who were subsequently dumped
out of the competition by Barca in the quarter-finals.
Pep marvels at Messi on Camp Nou return
Bayern Munich boss continued his brief trip to Spain by
watching his former club play in Europe
Pep Guardiola made his first return to Camp Nou on
Wednesday after a near three-year absence and admitted
it felt "really good" to watch his old club Barcelona
take on Manchester City in the Champions League.
Guardiola opted against renewing his contract at
Barca towards the end of the 2011/12 campaign after a
trophy-laden spell at the club with whom he made his
name as a player.
Having claimed three La Liga titles, two Copa del Reys,
two Fifa Club World Cups and two Champions League crowns
as coach, he cited fatigue for his decision to walk
After a year-long sabbatical in New York, he returned as
boss of Bayern Munich for the start of the 2013/14
campaign and was quick to maintain the Bavarian club's
dominance of German football.
Bayern have never been drawn against Barca during that
time, denying Guardiola the chance to go back.
He was present on Wednesday, however, to see Barca's
last-16 second leg against the English champions. The
44-year-old was captured by television cameras sitting
in the stand with his father and personal assistant,
former Spanish water polo player Manel Estiarte.
At half-time he gave his assessment of the opening 45
minutes to Catalunya Radio: "[Lionel] Messi is very
good, very good. It’s a real luxury to watch him. The
Barca players are very good and they are having a great
season. They have played well and created a lot of
chances. Let’s see what the draw brings.”
“It’s a great game we are watching. I hadn’t been back
here for a while and I feel really good to be watching
the game in the stands. It’s very special.”
Barca went on to win the game 1-0 to advance 3-1 on
On Tuesday night, he was at the Vicente Calderon to
witness Atletico Madrid's penalty shoot-out win over
Bayern are already through to the quarter-finals after a
7-0 aggregate victory over Shakhtar Donetsk.
'Ronaldo should lose the cocky attitude' - Real Madrid legend
The former Blancos striker says neither he nor the
Santiago Bernabeu faithful have much time for the
Portuguese's alleged arrogance
Real Madrid legend Carlos Santillana says Cristiano
Ronaldo needs to lose his "cocky attitude" if he wants
to retain the affection of the club's supporters.
Ronaldo has scored a staggering 293 goals in 285 games
in all competitions since joining the Blancos from
Manchester United in 2009 and last season he fired the
Spanish side to a 10th European Cup.
The Portugal international started 2014-15 in
sensational form but his attitude and behavior since
the turn of the year has drawn a lot of criticism.
In particular, his decision to go ahead with his 30th
birthday party celebrations just hours after the 4-0
derby defeat to Atletico Madrid upset some fans and
reportedly some team-mates.
Santillana, who spent 17 years at the Santiago Bernabeu
during his playing days, thinks Ronaldo should not be
whistled by Madrid fans but should at least act less
arrogantly if he truly wants to be embraced.
"Sometimes I don't like his attitude," the former
striker told reporters on Thursday.
"It is something that Real Madrid's fans don't like, so
imagine what rival fans think of him.
"We don't have to boo him, but he should correct his
Ronaldo will be hoping to get Madrid supporters back on
his side when Carlo Ancelotti's side face Barcelona in a
crucial top-of-the-table clash with the Liga leaders at
Camp Nou on Sunday.
Messi: Not long ago I was a disaster
The Argentine has played down his fine form of late but
admits that he is feeling confident heading into
Sunday's crunch Liga clash with Real Madrid
Lionel Messi has joked that he has suddenly gone from
being a disaster to back to his best after a fine
display in Barcelona's Champions League win over
The Argentine set up Ivan Rakitic for the only
goal of the game at Camp Nou as the Catalan side beat
the Premier League giants in both legs, winning 3-1 on
And Messi was full of praise for his side and City
goalkeeper Joe Hart, but played down reports that he is
now back performing at the peak of his considerable
powers - just a couple of months after his attitude and
form were being questioned by the press.
"Not along ago, I was a disaster," he told Canal+. "I’m
not going to be a disaster and then suddenly in my best
“Hart saved everything. We did everything we could to
score more goals, but their goalkeeper had a fantastic
game, so we have to congratulate him.
"But we were able to go through and that was the most
"We played a great game. We are at a very good level and
there are important games ahead – Madrid, the
quarter-finals… I am feeling good and enjoying myself,
but there is a long way to go."
The attacker is looking forward to Sunday's Clasico
clash with Real Madrid and feels his side are in good
"We started the year in a different way, with our hopes
and dreams renewed. We have started well. We have had
our ups and downs, but there are a lot of games and the
important thing is that we are at a great level and we
have to stretch that run.
"We have a lot of respect for Madrid and Cristiano
Ronaldo. Madrid are even more dangerous like this. We
can’t say if they are in good or bad form.
"Individually they have impressive players and they
could be even stronger than usual. We will try to play
our natural game."
'Ibrahimovic is Messi, Ali and Tyson rolled into one'
The player's agent says the unique qualities of the
striker mean there is no chance his current club will
sell him this summer
Zlatan Ibrahimovic's agent says the Paris Saint-Germain
star has the "technique of Lionel Messi, the character
of Muhammad Ali and the strength of Mike Tyson".
The Sweden international, 33, hit the headlines
for the wrong reasons at the weekend when he branded
France a “sh*t country” in a foul-mouthed rant at a
referee following PSG's defeat to Bordeaux.
Although Ibrahimovic later apologised for the
disparaging remarks he made about France, he has since
been criticised by several politicians in the country,
prompting speculation he could depart the club at the
end of the season.
However, Raiola says the Ligue 1 champions couldn't
possibly afford to sell him given the unique qualities
of the former Milan and Barcelona star and compared him
to three sporting icons.
"Theoretically, Ibrahimovic could be sold this summer -
but PSG would have to actually want that. Which leads me
to say that it would be virtually impossible," he told
"Today he is still the most important player in PSG's
project. Where's his potential replacement? Where's the
new Zlatan? It's impossible to find someone like him
today and PSG know that.
"Zlatan is unique – he's the only player in the world
who measures 1.96 metres, has the technique of Lionel
Messi, the character of Muhammad Ali and the strength of
"I've never forced players to do things they don't want
– Zlatan will extend his deal beyond 2016 if he wants
to. One thing he won't be, though, is a benchwarmer. He
is the star of the team or he is gone."
Blaise Matuidi is another player on Raiola's books and
despite admitting the PSG midfielder would be a great
fit for the Premier League, he believes there is no
chance of him leaving this summer.
"He could've left last summer, but it's his dream to win
everything with PSG," he continued. "Blaise could be
brilliant in English football.
"Yes, he could leave, but there's just one problem:
PSG's owners are not in football to make money. They
just want to have the best team. Matuidi doesn't want to
Messi-obsessed Ronaldo should be sold by Real Madrid -
The ex-Barcelona star feels Real Madrid should sell the
forward as his determination to match his Argentine
rival is holding him back
Hristo Stoichkov believes Cristiano Ronaldo's obsession
with Lionel Messi is holding the team back and that Real
Madrid should cash in on him.
While the Portuguese star has scored 41 goals in 39
games in all competitions for Madrid this season, he has
had a dip in form since the start of 2015, having scored
two in the last seven Liga matches.
The attacker has come under a lot of criticism in recent
weeks and even decided not to celebrate Gareth Bale's
goal against Levante on Sunday.
Stoichkov believes Ronaldo's attitude will begin to
hinder the rest of the Blancos side and believes his
determination to be seen as a better player than Messi
is having a negative effect on his performances and
those of the team.
"You can never get angry because a team-mate has scored
and not celebrating is to commit suicide as a team-mate,
because then you are worth nothing and you are worth
nothing to your team," he told Sportium.
"You can't doubt the quality of either Ronaldo or Messi.
Messi is where he should be and Cristiano is going
through a difficult time, but all players go through
rough patches. I was whistled as well in my time. It's
up to the coach to make decisions and to speak to the
"Maybe the obsession with Messi is affecting him, but
I'm not inside his head. Messi motivates his team-mates
and if Ronaldo doesn't score it affects his team.
"At times like that you have to display your
personality; 99 per cent of players can't answer the
question 'why am I being booed?'
"Messi is at the level of Pele, Diego Maradona and Johan
Cruyff and what annoys Cristiano is that he is only
compared to Messi.
"You'd have to ask Florentino Perez about Ronaldo's
future. Sooner or later, Cristiano will be sold by his
president. The world of football is like that, but it
depends on his president.
"I don't know if they are short of money. If they are,
it's a good moment to sell him."
Deco: Ronaldo works hard but Messi is pure talent
former Portugal international feels that the Argentine
is more naturally gifted, though he added that
Ronaldinho is the most skilful player he has ever come
Deco believes that Lionel Messi could be the best player
he has ever played with, and explained that the
Argentine is pure talent whereas Cristiano Ronaldo is a
product of hard work.
The now-retired 37-year-old played alongside
Messi during his time at Barcelona, while he and Ronaldo
were team-mates at international level with Portugal.
Deco has the utmost respect for both players, who have
won the last seven Ballon d'Or awards between them, but
feels that Messi has the edge.
However, the former playmaker suggested that another
former team-mate, Ronaldinho, could be even more gifted
"[Leo and Cristiano] are different," he told FourFourTwo.
"Messi was born with talent. Cristiano also has talent
but it's amazing how hard he works at it; how
professional he is.
"It's difficult to pick one but maybe Leo is the best
I've ever played with. Although, Ronaldinho did things
that I've never seen anyone do."
Deco was more decisive when it came to picking the best
coach he has ever played under, explaining that Jose
Mourinho, with whom he won the Champions League in 2004,
changed the entire mentality of Portuguese football.
"I think he's the best, though I've had many great
coaches: Fernando Santos, Carlo Ancelotti, Felipe
Scolari," Deco said.
"However, Mourinho brought something different. He
brought ambition because in those days in Portugal it
was difficult to imagine that one of our clubs could win
the Champions League."
Xavi relieved he stayed at Barcelona
midfielder was all set to quit Camp Nou and move to MLS
side New York City, only to be persuaded to stay by Luis
Xavi has admitted he is relieved he decided to
stay with Barcelona last summer as he prepares to make
his 750th appearance for the club against Eibar next
The midfielder was in advanced negotiations with new MLS
side New York City FC before a late plea from Barca
coach Luis Enrique changed his mind at the 11th hour.
He has since made 26 appearances so far this season and
Xavi is convinced he made the right choice in staying at
Camp Nou, where has spent his entire career.
"I'm glad I didn't leave last summer," he said.
"I'm lucky enough to have been at the best club in the
world. I've been in the first team for 17 years and,
together with the years in the academy, that's nearly 25
years here, which makes me very proud."
The 35-year-old rose to prominence under the tutelage of
former Blaugrana boss Frank Rijkaard who saw his
potential to play in a more advanced midfield role and
Xavi pointed to the Dutchman as a key influence.
He added: "I had no idea that the best years of my
career would be further forward in midfield. It was
Rijkaard that put me there, he saw that I had a good
The former Spain midfielder, who retired from
international duty after the last summer's World Cup,
also enjoyed great success during Pep Guardiola's
four-year reign in charge of the club and sees
similarities between the now Bayern Munich boss and Luis
"They both impose their character and style on their
teams. Pep was very vocal and Luis Enrique is too, they
both like to have control."
'Messi ate too many pizzas', blasts former Barcelona star
Carles Rexach says the Argentine put on too much weight
last season and believes Luis Enrique is too strict with
Former Barcelona star Carles Rexach has hit out
at Lionel Messi, claiming that the Argentine ate too
many pizzas last season.
The 2013-14 campaign was an underwhelming one for the
Argentine as he tallied his lowest number of goals since
2008-09 and Barca finished the campaign without a major
Rexach, who played for the Blaugrana from 1967-1981 and
later coached the club, believes the attacker gained
weight last year because he was eating too many pizzas.
"Before he would eat at the club and then rest
afterwards, but it seems to me that last year Messi ate
more pizzas than he wanted or needed," Rexach told
The former winger also touched on current Barca coach
Luis Enrique's first season in charge. The ex-Roma boss
had a well-publicised falling-out with Messi and is
currently enduring a number of dressing room problems
with members of his squad.
"Luis Enrique has started with too many rules - whoever
doesn't train doesn't play," he said. "Let's see what
happens when Messi doesn't train and you need him!"
Barcelona currently sit second in La Liga, four points
behind Real Madrid.
Mourinho: Real Madrid & Bayern Munich aren't Champions League
coach insists the Spanish and German league leaders are
not the most likely sides to win the European
competition and expressed his worry over Diego Costa's
Jose Mourinho insists Real Madrid and Bayern Munich are
not the favourites to win this season's Champions
Chelsea are set to face Paris Saint-Germain in the Parc
des Princes on Tuesday in the first-leg of their second
round tie in Europe's most prestige competition as they
look to maintain a strong campaign this season.
However, Madrid, the reigning world and European
champions, along with 2012-13 Champions League winners
Bayern, are said to have one of the strongest cases to
win the competition this year.
However, the Portuguese coach believes none of
the 16 teams currently in the tournament can be ruled
out just yet.
"I don't agree at all that they're favourites, because
the Champions League always has space for surprises," he
"You go through the last decade and see teams winning
the competition who you expect to win, but you also have
teams you don't expect to win. You can balance it almost
"You have three or four teams people would not be
expecting. I really don't know the candidates when it
goes to the knockout stage. At the moment there are 16
candidates for me."
Diego Costa, who has not played for the Blues since last
month's League Cup semi-final victory over Liverpool,
having served a three-game suspension for stamping on
Emre Can, is expected to start in midweek, but Mourinho
is worried about his sharpness.
"Yes, I will start him, but I don’t think it’s good for
a player to go three matches without starting a game,"
he added. "I don’t think he's in the best condition.
"But at the same time Loic Remy and Didier Drogba played
in the last three matches. It’s obviously important for
them to get minutes and have confidence and I know I
have them both ready."
The Blues boss also refused to clarify whether Thibaut
Courtois would regain his starting spot in goal against
PSG after replacement Petr Cech produced an impressive
performance against Everton on Wednesday.
"Courtois doesn’t know if he will play or not, so I
can’t tell you. He has to hear it from me, not from the
"But I repeat, Chelsea has the two best goalkeepers in
the Premier League, and for me it’s an easy job. I’m
very happy with both. Every time one plays the team is
very confident because they know they have a top
Messi is not a machine, but he is a phenomenon - Abidal
former defender believes Barcelona thrive when the
Argentine is on top form and hinted he could return to
Camp Nou in a non-playing capacity
Lionel Messi “is not a machine” but he remains a
phenomenon, says his former Barcelona team-mate Eric
The French defender spent six years playing at
Camp Nou with the Argentine before leaving for Monaco in
2013, while Messi has remained with the Catalans.
Although he has lost out on the past two Ballon d'Or
awards, Messi has been in excellent form in 2015 and
Barcelona have closed the gap at the top of La Liga to
just one point behind Real Madrid with a run of 10
"Messi is at 100 per cent, he has been at the level
everyone expected of him this year," Abidal told ESPN.
"He is still scoring all of the time and he is still a
"The big players will always be big players, but they
are not machines. That goes for Leo, too, but when he is
in form then everything goes well for Barca."
Abidal is back in the city of Barcelona having retired
from professional football at the end of 2014 and is
working for his charitable foundation which helps
children with cancer.
Regarding rumours that he could be employed in some
capacity at Camp Nou in the near future, he added: "The
club and I are very close, they are part of my family."
Luis Enrique's men are in La Liga action on Sunday when
they host Levante. They are back competing in the
Champions League last 16 on February 24 with a visit to
Manchester City, who they knocked out of Europe last
I'm not an actor or show-off - Benzema
striker believes some players make an effort to portray
a certain image for the television cameras, but claims
he is only ever himself
Real Madrid star Karim Benzema has declared he is "not
an actor" on or off the field and believes his grounded
attitude has made him popular with supporters and the
The likes of David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo
have been accused in the past as caring too much about
their image as football has evolved into a more
money-spinning sport over the past two decades.
The France international, however, says crafting a
persona for his efforts on the pitch does not interest
him and he just wants to be himself, which he believes
is doing wonders for his popularity.
"I'm not an actor," he told Surface Magazine. "I'm not
in the game to look good for the cameras. There are
others who do that in life but I like to laugh and I get
along with everyone.
"When people see me on the street - whether they are
old, young, women or children - everyone shows me
Real Madrid were criticised from all quarters for the
way they crumbled to a landslide 4-0 defeat at Atletico
Madrid at the weekend.
Although the 27-year-old admitted the European
champions' performance was "a disaster", Benzema takes
disapproval which stems from fans or the media with a
huge pinch of salt.
"I will take criticism seriously from those who have
played the game at the highest level," he continued.
"But if it comes from someone who has never played the
game then I don't take it seriously.
"All that matters in my position is scoring goals. Up
front, if you are lazy then people notice - you have to
Cristiano Ronaldo blasts 'unintelligent' reporter
Portuguese attacker had little patience for one
journalist's line of questioning following his side's
4-0 humiliation to Atletico Madrid on Saturday
Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo showed his
frustration following Saturday’s 4-0 derby thrashing
from city rivals Atletico by blasting a reporter for
what he perceived as an ‘unintelligent’ line of
Liga leaders Real suffered their worst defeat since a
5-0 drubbing from Barcelona at Camp Nou in 2010 in what
coach Carlo Ancelotti labelled the darkest day of his
time in charge of the 10-time European champions.
And Ronaldo was visibly miffed shortly after the game
when one reporter asked him to clear up what he meant
when he motioned to his Club World Cup-winning badge on
his shirt following his sending off against Cordoba on
“Do you want to talk about what happened today or about
Cordoba, that was three months [sic] ago now,” he said.
“What do you want me to say? If you were an intelligent
journalist you’d ask me questions about today’s game.
“You are not intelligent. Sorry.”
Real Madrid will see their lead at the top of La Liga
cut to one point if Barcelona can prevail against
Athletic Bilbao at San Memes on Sunday.
Messi better on the wing - Luis Enrique
coach defended his decision to play his talisman out
wide, insisting the move was for the greater good of the
team. system after he scored the winner in their 3-2
victory over Villarreal.
The Catalans had to come from behind twice before
sealing victory, with Neymar, Rafinha and Messi all
finding the back of the net to cancel out goals from
Denis Cheryshev and Luciano Vietto.
The Argentine has often been deployed as a deep lying
playmaker in Luis Enrique's new-look system, but
operated as a winger on Sunday - a move the coach
defended after the game.
He said: "Messi playing on wing again? It's for the good
of the team, but he has freedom to move. We want him to
touch the ball a lot."
Luis Suarez again toiled away up front for Barca but
failed to convert several chances that came his way,
meaning he has just five goals in 18 games in all
competitions for the club this season.
But Luis Enrique again offered his backing to the
Uruguayan, insisting his contribution was more than just
about scoring goals.
"What does Suarez add? A lot," he continued. "It's
crucial to have someone to push back the centre backs.
The goals will come, no doubt."
The Spaniard also reserved special praise for Rafinha,
who scored his first goal for the club, and Andres
Iniesta, who shone in a central role.
"Rafinha? He had a very complete game, like the others.
This season, he needs to adapt a bit. No doubt he'll be
a key player for Barca.
He added: "Iniesta is playing at best position now, more
in centre, not as much from wing as before. I'm very
happy with performances."
The result leaves Barcelona one point behind leaders
Real Madrid at the top of La Liga, but Carlo Ancelotti's
side have a game in hand.
Xavi: Zero importance in Messi's Luis Enrique row
midfielder, 35, is adamant that the Argentine's training
ground fallout with the Camp Nou coach will not affect
the Catalans this season and played up Neymar's
Xavi has insisted that the row behind the scenes at
Barcelona between Luis Enrique and Lionel Messi will
have "zero importance" for the remainder of 2014-15.
Reports surfaced that the pair's relationship was
beyond repair earlier this month, with the coach
rumoured to be on the verge of the sack as Barca pleaded
with Messi to stay, although recent good results have
lessened the air of negativity around Camp Nou.
Defender Jeremy Mathieu broke the silence from within
the Catalan club by confirming on Thursday that there
was an incident in training which saw Messi and Luis
Enrique engage in a heated argument.
However, veteran midfielder Xavi has insisted that there
is nothing abnormal about a coach and a player falling
out temporarily and suggested such moments of tension
between colleagues can happen hundreds of times over the
course of a season.
"[The row Mathieu spoke about] was a normal situation in
a season and it often happens when people work
together," he told reporters on Friday. "People want to
complain, but we should not give it more importance, it
happened in the heat of the moment.
"The row subject is closed, Barca are together -
everybody is motivated and, honestly, we are together.
Jeremy's words are not affecting us, we found a solution
to that incident and moved on.
"The importance attributed to the row is zero. This is
not the first time such a thing has happened, it happens
with a lot of team-mates, it's just what occurs when
people work together.
"We all want to win, there are sometimes stressful
situations that happen during the training sessions -
that happened and will happen 200 times."
defender has lifted the lid on a heated argument
involving the No.10 and his boss after the winter break.
Barcelona defender Jeremy Mathieu has revealed that
Lionel Messi and head coach Luis Enrique did have a
training-ground argument earlier this month.
The prolific attacker has endured a difficult
relationship with his coach ever since the latter's
return to Camp Nou ahead of the 2014-15 campaign, but
both have so far refused to discuss the matter publicly,
with club president Josep Bartomeu repeatedly insisting
there is no problem between the two.
However, Mathieu has revealed than an incident
took place shortly after Messi had returned from his
Christmas break, after which Luis Enrique benched the
Argentine, for the 1-0 loss versus Real Sociedad.
"It happened when we got back from our holidays.
Suddenly, Leo lost his temper after a foul that was not
given in training," Mathieu told RMC. "Things got tense
and they exchanged some angry words.
"Luis Enrique then approached him in the dressing room
afterwards to talk to him and that was the end of it."
Nevertheless, Mathieu was quick to stress that there has
been no fallout and added that such incidents happen at
"These kinds of things happen everywhere, but it's made
out to be a major thing because we are Barcelona," the
centre-half stated. "Things get blown out of proportion
and that's the problem."
Irrespective of the ongoing speculation about his future
at Barcelona, Messi has been a key figure for the Camp
Nou side in 2014-15, scoring 31 goals in 29 appearances
in all competitions.
Mourinho feels ashamed after Chelsea humiliation
Blues threw away a two-goal lead to exit the FA Cup at
the fourth round stage and the Portuguese coach has
urged the media to be harsh in their assessment of his
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has admitted he is
"ashamed" after his side were knocked out of the FA Cup
by League One side Bradford.
Goals from Gary Cahill and Ramires had put the
Blues two ahead in the first half before an unbelievable
comeback by Phil Parkinson's side saw them score four
times to claim a memorable 4-2 win.
Mourinho had commented prior to the match that a defeat
at Stamford Bridge would be a "disgrace" and he pulled
no punches in his assessment of the humbling after the
He told reporters: "In this moment, I feel happy for
them [Bradford]. But I feel ashamed. And I think the
players should feel the same.
"I repeat the words that I used yesterday. 'In case we
lose, it is a disgrace.' It is a disgrace.
"It is unacceptable to lose to a team from a lower
league. If I was you I would be very critical with the
Chelsea manager and players.
"In an ideal world this will affect us in a positive
way. We have to win the next match."
Johan Cruyff says it's "absurd" that Real Madrid Cristiano
Ronaldo won the Fifa Ballon d'Or
The former Holland star has criticised the decision to
award the Madrid forward the trophy and feels Toni Kroos
would have been a more worthy winner
Johan Cruyff says it's "absurd" that Real Madrid star
Cristiano Ronaldo won the Fifa Ballon d'Or following his
disappointing performances for Portugal at the World
Cruyff - who landed the prize in 1971, 1973 and
1974 feels the trophy should have gone to someone who
did not only excel individually, but also enjoyed a
successful World Cup, adding that Toni Kroos would have
been a worthy winner.
"At the highest level, it's all about the combination of
individual quality and achievements," the Netherlands
legend wrote in his column for De Telegraaf.
"From that point of view, it's absurd that for the
second year in a row a player has been given the award
who did not both play excellent and win the most
"Back in 2013, Bayern Munich won every single trophy out
there, yet Cristiano Ronaldo still won the award instead
of a player like Toni Kroos or someone else from Bayern.
"In 2014, Kroos was a key player again for the team that
won the World Cup, yet he was not even among the final
three nominees. Ronaldo was completely anonymous at the
"Let this be clear, I cannot take this Fifa award
Ronaldo, 29, finished ahead of Lionel Messi and Manuel
Neuer in the vote to win the third Ballon d'Or of his
Ronaldo: Messi & I motivate each other
The Portugal star believes he and his rival serve as
inspiration to footballers around the world and inspire
each other to search for perfection
Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo believes that he and
Lionel Messi are motivated by the long-standing rivalry
they have shared.
The 29-year-old and the Barcelona star have won every
Ballon d'Or between them since 2008, with the Portugal
international claiming his third last week to close in
on the Argentine's tally of four.
Ronaldo believes that their duopoly on football's
biggest individual award is a good thing and feels they
inspire their rivals to try harder to close the gap.
"I’m sure that the competition between us is a
motivating factor for him too," he is quoted as saying
"It’s good for me, for him and for other players who are
keen to grow. Messi has four Ballon d'Or awards, I have
three. This is all good for the world of football."
Ronaldo went on to say that he is currently working on
improving his set pieces, having been less successful
from dead ball situations of late.
"I’m currently trying to improve my left foot, my
acceleration and my direct free-kicks.
"I’ve not had a great deal of success recently with
them. I know that it will come back. It’s just a
question of having enough humility to know that without
training hard, things won’t progress.
"Working on my game is my guide. If I’m able to play
more than 60 games per season, it’s because I look after
myself. I sleep well, I eat well.
"In these ways I look for perfection too. If not, one
can’t keep this rhythm of playing up."
Guardiola urges Messi to stay at Barcelona in secret phone call
speculation the Argentine could be considering a Camp
Nou exit, his former boss has told him to remain patient
and believe in current coach Luis Enrique
Pep Guardiola has urged Lionel Messi to stay at
Barcelona, advising the Argentina international to
remain patient and show faith in the project of current
boss Luis Enrique.
Last week the four-time world player of the year
appeared to be as close as ever to a Camp Nou exit after
admitting he was unsure where he would be playing his
football next season.
Reigning Premier League champions Manchester City have
since been linked with a world record move for the
forward, who was said to be unhappy at being dropped
from the Barca side that lost 1-0 to Real Sociedad
earlier this month.
Bayern Munich coach Guardiola told Messi he should
appreciate what he means to Barcelona and what the club
has given him, both in his professional and personal
life. Guardiola also reminded the 27-year-old of the
unanimous support he has from everyone at the club,
stressing that no other club can show him the same level
Messi has always listened to those he respects and owes
so much of his career to and the sentiments of his
former mentor Guardiola have made a real impression on
him. The duo won three Liga titles, two Champions League
crowns and two club world titles during Guardiola's four
seasons with the club.
Pep insisted that Luis Enrique has what it takes to be
successful with the Catalan giants and urged Messi to
remain calm and committed to the club, vowing that the
upcoming presidential elections would bring to an end
what has been a turbulent 12 months or so for the club.
Former chief Sandro Rosell was forced to step down after
revealing the controversial financial details of the
club’s acquisition of Brazil star Neymar. A two-window
transfer embargo was then enforced by Fifa after the
club were found to have breached regulations regarding
the transfers of under-18 players.
Messi, who does not have a close relationship with Luis
Enrique or any of the members of the current board, was
relieved to receive the reassurances from his former
Mourinho questions Bony signing: The rules are different for
Portuguese has hinted that the Premier League leaders
are not adhering to Uefa's Financial Fair Play
regulations with their signing of the Ivory Coast
Jose Mourinho has suggested there is a different set of
rules for Manchester City after the Premier League
champions announced the signing of striker Wilfried
Bony joined City in a deal worth €35 million
earlier this week despite restrictions imposed on the
club's net transfer spend and wage bill by Uefa as part
of a Financial Fair Play sanction last summer.
And while praising the Ivorian's quality as a Premier
League goalscorer, Mourinho hinted that City are not
adhering to Uefa's financial regulations with their
continued activity in the transfer market.
"Good striker," he replied when asked about Bony. "If
[City] have the money & no problems with FFP, well done.
"They can only play with 11 unless the rules are
different for them. It looks like they are in certain
When asked to clarify his answer, Mourinho added: "You
know what I mean."
City's transfer policy has been the subject of scrutiny
in recent weeks amid confusion over the nature of Frank
Lampard's contract with the club.
It was initially announced that he had joined on loan
from New York City FC, but on extending his stay at the
Etihad Stadium the Premier League leaders were forced to
admit that the 36-year-old had joined on a permanent
Meanwhile, having previously insisted there would be no
January arrivals or departures at Chelsea, Mourinho has
now softened his public stance to the possibility of
involvement in the winter market.
"I'll be happy if nobody leaves and nobody comes but the
market is open so you never know."
Lewandowski: I was wrong to vote for Ronaldo
Poland captain regrets ticking the box next to the
Portuguese's name and wishes he'd backed one of his
current team-mates instead
Bayern Munich attacker Robert Lewandowski has rued his
decision to pick Cristiano Ronaldo in the Fifa Ballon
d'Or vote ahead of Manuel Neuer.
The Poland skipper gave the Real Madrid star five
points ahead of his Bayern team-mates Neuer and Bastian
Schweinsteiger, but he now feels the Germany goalkeeper
would have been a better choice in hindsight.
Neuer eventually ended third in the running for the
prize with 15.72 per cent of the votes, just 0.04 per
cent behind Lionel Messi, while 37.66 per cent picked
"Voting for Ronaldo instead of Neuer was a mistake,"
Lewandowski was quoted as saying by Welt.
"I would clearly vote for Neuer now if I had the chance.
But I already cast my vote back in August or something.
I would vote different now.
"I am sorry for Manu. I am really surprised that he did
not even come in second and the big gap to Ronaldo also
baffles me. Manuel is an amazing goalkeeper and person."
Neuer was one of four Bayern Munich players to make the
top 10, with Arjen Robben (fourth), Thomas Muller
(fifth), Philipp Lahm (sixth) all earning a spot among
the world's best, too.
Bartomeu: Everyone knows Barca won't sell Messi
Blaugrana president has attempted to play down
suggestions that the club's star man wants to leave Camp
Nou due to a fall-out with Luis Enrique
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has dismissed
suggestions Lionel Messi is looking to leave the club
and played down talk of a rift between the Argentina
superstar and coach Luis Enrique.
Speculation the pair are at loggerheads has intensified
following Luis Enrique's decision to leave Messi, and
his fellow South Americans Neymar and Dani Alves, on the
bench for Sunday's 1-0 defeat at Real Sociedad.
Messi then missed training the following day with the
club claiming he was suffering from gastroenteritis.
Luis Enrique insisted earlier on Wednesday his
relationship with Messi was identical to when he took
over at the start of the season and Bartomeu feels the
gossip should end there.
Speaking at a press conference to announce the club had
brought forward their presidential elections to this
summer, he said: "I can't come out every day to deny
every rumour floating around the club.
"Lionel Messi has a contract, he's happy here and keen
to win more titles. There's nothing to panic about in
"The dressing room is a sacred place. Many things can
happen there but they stay there. Lionel Messi is the
leader of our team. He is our best player and we are
counting on his services."
Asked how he knew Messi was happy with life at Barca, he
added: "You just need to watch him on the pitch, he is
not the player of last season.
"Everyone in football knows Barca do not want to sell
Messi. So there is no issue."
As for the speculation, he said: "The stories are
written to create conflict when conflict does not exist.
But these are questions you have to direct at Luis
Enrique and Messi.
"These are matters that Luis Enrique has made clear are
best kept within the squad. I am in contact with them
and the message I am getting is they are working well
and trying to win titles."
Bartomeu has denied Luis Enrique's position is under
threat and backed the former Roma boss to turn the
club's fortunes around.
"Luis Enrique has a project he's working on at the
moment, he's restructuring the team. He has a job to do
and we still think he's the perfect person for this
It has been a difficult week for Barca and Bartomeu,
who, on Monday, sacked director of football Andoni
Zubizarreta had, the previous night, made clear he felt
Bartomeu should shoulder most of the blame for the
club's two-window transfer ban for breaches of transfer
Bartomeu said; "Some associate Zubi's exit with the Fifa
ban but I don't. Zubizarreta had no responsibility for
the transfers of those kids.
"The new director of football will be someone from
inside the club or someone who knows the club. We will
not bring someone in from the outside."
'Messi worth €87m more than Ronaldo'
The Argentine has topped a research group's findings
which tallied the 120 highest-valued footballers in the
Lionel Messi is worth €87 million more than Cristiano
Ronaldo, according to research within the International
Centre for Sports Studies (CIES) in Switzerland.
The 27-year-old attacker has won four Ballons
d'Or in his career so far and skippered Argentina to the
World Cup final last year, winning the Golden Ball award
for being the best player in the process.
Like Ronaldo with Real Madrid, Messi has a contract with
Barcelona until June 2018, although reports have been
circulating in recent weeks that he might swap Camp Nou
for Chelsea due to discontent in Catalunya.
But Chelsea will know Messi will not be cheap: the
Football Observatory, a research group within CIES,
suggest Messi currently has a valuation of €220m.
Ronaldo is next in the list, valued at €133m, while
world-record signing Gareth Bale sits in 10th with an
estimated net worth of €60m to the Santiago Bernabeu
Chelsea have three players in the top 10: Eden Hazard is
rated at €99m in third spot just ahead of fourth-placed
Diego Costa (€84m) and fellow summer signing Cesc
Fabregas in eighth (€62m).
Juventus bagged Paul Pogba for free in 2012, now he's
valued at €72m - fifth in CIES' ranking as of January
2015 - while the other three spots in the top 10 are
filled by Premier League players: Manchester City's
Sergio Aguero at €65m in sixth, Liverpool's Raheem
Sterling at €63m in seventh and Arsenal's Alexis
Notable absentees from the top 10 include Neymar (11th
at €58m), Bayern Munich's highest-valued star Mario
Gotze (13th at €52m) and 2014's most expensive player
Luis Suarez (16th at €48m).
European champions Real Madrid have the most players on
the list with eight other stars in addition to Ronaldo
and Bale in the top 120: James Rodriguez in 15th, Isco
in 17th, Karim Benzema in 21st, Toni Kroos in 23rd, Luka
Modric in 27th, Sergio Ramos in 40th, Dani Carvajal in
68th, Raphael Varane in 87th and Marcelo in 94th.
The oldest player in CIES' 2015 valuation tally is
31-year-old Franck Ribery, tied for 106th at €20m, while
Manchester United's teenage left-back Luke Shaw is
valued at €26m along with Mario Balotelli and Gerard
Pique in 65th.
Juventus are stronger challengers than Bayern or Chelsea -
The Real Madrid boss believes the Italian champions are
more likely to stop his side's bid to retain their
Champions League crown this season
Carlo Ancelotti has suggested Juventus will pose a
greater threat to Real Madrid's Champions League crown
than Bayern Munich or Chelsea this season.
Madrid have been drawn against Bundesliga outfit
Schalke in the last 16 of the competition as they look
to become the first side to retain the trophy in its
Jose Mourinho's Chelsea and Pep Guardiola's Bayern both
reached the last four last season and have enjoyed
impressive starts to their respective campaigns, but
Ancelotti believes both teams have too many young
players who do not yet possess the experience needed to
succeed in the latter stages.
"They [Juventus] are a great team," he told Tuttosport.
"Bayern or Chelsea have several world champions and
players with international experience, but are just
missing that bit of maturity in the youngsters."
Madrid have won their previous 22 competitive outings
but suffered a 4-2 friendly defeat to AC Milan on
Tuesday - though Ancelotti does not believe it will
hamper their chances of victory against Valencia this
"It is a defeat that does not hurt at all. After a week
of vacation we needed a game like this to prepare for
the trip to Valencia. It serves to recover our rhythm,"
"Milan played well and we did not, but that does not
ruin everything good that we did in 2014. We are very
pleased with a fantastic year."
'Ronaldo will retire at Real Madrid'
The Portuguese's agent, Jorge Mendes, claims the forward
will not leave the Santiago Bernabeu, while he also
lauded the prospects of Barcelona star Neymar
Cristiano Ronaldo's agent has claimed that the two-time
Ballon d'Or-winning forward will finish his playing
career at Real Madrid.
The Portuguese was consistently linked with a return to
Manchester United last year before putting pen to paper
on a new deal which runs until June 2018, when he would
have spent nine years at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Ronaldo, who will be 33 years old in the summer of 2018,
claimed last month that he would like to stay with the
current European champions for longer than his existing
deal if they will have him.
And his agent Jorge Mendes is convinced that the
Portugal international, 29, will be a Real Madrid player
until the day he hangs up his boots and suggested the
club should consider retiring his No.7 shirt upon his
"I got to know him when he was 15 years old, from then
until now we've spoken together on most days," he told
Globo Esporte. "When I’m in Madrid we always meet up.
Our relationship is more like a friendship.
"I believe that Cristiano will finish his career at Real
Madrid. He’s happy at the club and is still keen to
achieve more success in Madrid.
"Will the club retire his shirt number when he finishes
at Madrid? With every respect to the likes of Raul and
Di Stefano, no player can compare to Cristiano Ronaldo.
"He's the best player in history and I'd suggest the
best sportsperson of all-time - we'll never see the
likes of Cristiano again. It will be completely
When asked if overtaking Barcelona forward Lionel
Messi's tally of four Ballons d'Or, Mendes responded:
"If he stays fit, I'm sure he'll remain the best for
Neymar mused over Christmas that he might never reach
the level of Messi and Ronaldo, but Mendes thinks he's
destined to be among football's greatest soon - even if
he lamented it would not be while playing in the same
team as his star Portuguese client.
"He’s not quite Cristiano, but he is fantastically
talented," the agent continued. "I’m confident that
he’ll be amongst the best in the world in a few years.
He has been unlucky that he has not ended up playing
Mourinho: Chelsea can't buy Messi because of FFP
The Blues last month announced a record profit of £18.4
million and appear well on course to comply with FFP,
but the Argentine's £205m release clause remains out of
Jose Mourinho admits he has "no chance" of signing
Lionel Messi for Chelsea because of Uefa's Financial
Fair Play restrictions.
The Blues last month announced a record £18.4
million profit for the year ending June 2014, driven by
increased revenues and shrewd player trading, and appear
well on course to comply with FFP.
But Mourinho insists the break-even regulations mean
there is no way of bringing four-time Ballon d'Or winner
Messi, who has a £205m release clause in his Barcelona
contract, to Stamford Bridge in the near future.
"No I have no chance of that," the Portuguese said in a
BT Sport special to be broadcast on Christmas Day.
"Because at this moment there is financial fair play and
with the financial fair play we have to follow certain
rules, certain numbers and we obviously have no
conditions to buy, as you say a ‘super amazing player’
paid with ‘super amazing numbers’. At Chelsea at this
moment we cannot do [it]."
Back in November Messi hinted for the first time that he
might one day have to leave Barcelona, while Cesc
Fabregas this week admitted he would love to play
alongside the Argentine superstar again.
Wenger praying for kind Champions League draw
Gunners boss also says his side need a few more wins to
completely restore their confidence following their
victory over Newcastle but is pleased with the team's
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says he is hoping for some
good fortune in Monday's draw for the last 16 of the
The north Londoners finished as runners-up to
Borussia Dortmund in Group D, meaning they could be
pitted against such European heavyweights as Bayern
Munich, Barcelona or even holders Real Madrid.
Arsenal were knocked out of the tournament by Bayern at
the last-16 stage last season and Wenger is hoping for a
kinder draw, with Atletico Madrid, Porto and Monaco also
possible opponents for his side.
"We have been well served in the recent years," he told
reporters. "Maybe I will go to church over the weekend."
The Gunners head into the festive fixtures in good form
having bounced back from defeat to Stoke with wins over
Galatasaray and Newcastle and Wenger is hoping his side
can maintain their good run.
"In the last six games we’ve won five. We need a few
more wins to completely lift the confidence," he added.
"You could see at some stage we were a bit edgy
sometimes when it was 3-1 and the crowd as well felt the
ghost of Anderlecht here a little bit. We need a few
"We can score goals and we showed that again tonight.
Overall it was a dynamic game where defensively -
despite the fact that we were depleted at the back - we
were quite solid.
"Going forward we always looked dangerous. In the end we
won in a convincing way. We scored four goals and that
was needed. The response was strong after the Stoke City
game and let’s go well over Christmas.
"I cannot fault any performance today because I think
everybody played well."
Mourinho: No Matic, no problem
Chelsea boss stated his belief that his side can cope
without the Serbian midfielder, while he confirmed Diego
Costa will start, despite the Blues winning 3-0 in his
Jose Mourinho is confident that Chelsea can negotiate a
difficult away trip to Newcastle even without the
suspended Nemanja Matic.
The Serbia international has been in excellent
form for the Blues, anchoring the midfielder and
starting all of their Premier League matches so far this
season, but he picked up a fifth booking of the campaign
Mourinho, though, is adamant that his squad are strong
enough to cope with the absence of Matic, just as they
did when Diego Costa was suspended against Spurs – a
match that the west Londoners won 3-0.
When asked by reporters about Matic's suspension, the
Portuguese replied: "No problem. Diego was also
important for us and he didn't play and we didn't want
to speak about him.
"This time it is a big player for us who isn't playing
but we trust other people and we forget Matic. He has a
little bit of a holiday, a free weekend which he
deserves very, very much, and he comes back stronger."
Mourinho, who claims that he "doesn't care" about the
records that Chelsea could break this season, has
famously never won at St James's Park in the league and
expects the Magpies to raise their game against his side
Asked why he struggles against the Toon, he said:
"Because it is difficult, it is a difficult stadium to
play. There are a few stadiums in this country where
clearly, when they see the Chelsea shirt, they play the
game of their lives.
"When they play against other teams they look like they
are playing friendlies but maybe this is because
Chelsea, in the last decade, became a strong team that
everybody wants to beat."
Despite scoring against Tottenham on Wednesday evening,
Mourinho also confirmed that Didier Drogba was unlikely
to keep his place in the squad, with Diego Costa
returning to the starting XI.
Barcelona 5-1 Espanyol: Another Messi milestone in demolition
Argentina international struck three times at Camp Nou,
passing through the 400-goal barrier in the process,
while Gerard Pique and Pedro were also on target
Lionel Messi scored a superb hat-trick as Barcelona came
from behind to rout city rivals Espanyol 5-1 on Sunday
Blaugrana academy product Sergio Garcia silenced
Camp Nou by opening the scoring 13 minutes in but Messi
levelled matters just before half-time.
The Argentina international put Barca ahead five minutes
into the second half and, after Gerard Pique had headed
home a third, the four-time Ballon d'Or winner completed
his hat-trick with his second right-footed finish of the
There was even time for Pedro to add a fifth, as Barca
warmed up for Wednesday's crunch Champions League clash
with Paris Saint-Germain in fine style.
Barca started sluggishly, as Garcia flashed a cross in
from the left, and only a last-ditch Jordi Alba
intervention denied Lucas Vazquez an easy finish.
But clinical visiting play saw Espanyol seize the
initiative as Felipe Caicedo robbed Sergio Busquets on
the right flank, and fed Garcia, who breezed past Pique
before executing a low finish past Claudio Bravo.
Garcia could only fire tamely at Bravo as Espanyol
threatened to double their lead, but it only seemed to
spur Barca on further as Messi struck the crossbar with
a 30-yard free-kick, before Luis Suarez fired just wide.
And with home pressure building before the break, Messi
bent an unstoppable effort into the bottom-left corner
from 25 yards to restore parity on the stroke of
The visitors were somewhat lucky not to be reduced to 10
men in the 49th minute as Eric Bailly barged Neymar over
with the Brazilian through on goal.
But it mattered little to Barca, who edged themselves
ahead a minute later.
Messi's first touch from Suarez's pass was heavy, but he
reacted quickly to poke the ball through Juan Fuentes'
legs and then stroke right-footed past Casilla from the
edge of the area.
And their third arrived shortly after, Pique atoning for
his role in Garcia's opener as he headed Ivan Rakitic's
corner into the net.
With the result already in little doubt, substitute
Pedro latched on to Alba's exquisite cross-field pass
before coolly slotting beyond Casilla in the 77th minute
and Messi completed the rout four minute later.
The Argentine combined brilliantly with Pedro, playing a
one-two into the area before steering into the net from
10 yards, securing his third hat-trick in four games and
maintaining Barca's dominance over their near neighbours.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi & Neuer make three-man Ballon d'Or
and France Football have revealed the names of the three
candidates who will fight it out for the prize
Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Manuel Neuer have
made the three-man shortlist for the 2014 Fifa Ballon
The Real Madrid attacker, 29, could win the
prestigious individual award for a third time after
lifting the trophy in 2008 and 2013.
Ronaldo played a key role in Madrid's successful
Champions League campaign last season, scoring 17 goals
to set a new record for most goals scored in the
competition in one season.
Barcelona star Messi, meanwhile, is in contention to
scoop the accolade for a record fifth time, and has hit
top form in recent weeks to add weight to his case.
The 27-year-old attacker did not win any major trophies
with Barcelona in 2014, but enjoyed a successful season
on a personal level as he became both La Liga and
Champions League all-time top scorer in November.
Neuer, finally, makes the three-man shortlist for the
first time in his career and could become the first
goalkeeper since Lev Yashin in 1963 to be voted the
world's best footballer.
The 28-year-old won the Bundesliga title and DFB Pokal
with Bayern Munich, before crowning a superb year by
winning the World Cup with Germany.
Other favourites such as Thomas Muller, Toni Kroos,
Arjen Robben and Philipp Lahm miss out on a podium spot.
Fifa and France Football will announce the winner on
January 12 at the Fifa Ballon d'Or Gala.
Van Gaal: Messi and Ronaldo don't deserve Ballon d'Or
Barcelona and Real Madrid stars are favourites to win
the award, but the Manchester United manager feels one
of Germany's World Cup winners should receive the honour
Louis van Gaal is expecting either Lionel Messi or
Cristiano Ronaldo to win the Ballon d'Or but feels one
of Germany's World Cup-winning squad would merit the
The Barcelona and Real Madrid stars are
favourites to be crowned on January 12, 2015, but the
Manchester United manager feels the pair do not deserve
Messi, a four-time winner, was handed the Golden Ball at
the World Cup after helping Argentina to the final while
Ronaldo, a two-time winner, lifted the Champions League
with Real Madrid.
But Van Gaal feels a member of the triumphant Germany
squad would be more worthy victors, with Toni Kross,
Philipp Lahm, Thomas Muller, Manuel Neuer, Bastian
Schweinsteiger and Mario Gotze all nominated.
"Most of the time it is always the well known players
[who win the Ballon d'Or]," he told MUTV.
"It is more for the football world and outside world
than for other things I believe. I think it will be
Ronaldo or Messi but I want to say that you have to win
"The best thing to win is the World Cup. I hope it shall
be a German player because they deserve it.
"The level of the Bundesliga matches is also very high
so I think it should be a German player."
Barcelona's Lionel Messi ahead of Real Madrid star Cristiano
Lionel Messi ahead of Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo
as world football's top earner
The La Liga pair are still behind the likes of US
golfers Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson but still earn
more than the Premier League's top-paid star Wayne
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi has been confirmed as the
best-paid footballer in the world having picked up $43.8
million (€30.5m) in the last year, according to
America's Sports Illustrated 'Fortunate 50' list.
The Argentinian, who is widely acknowledged as the
greateat player on the planet, came out above Cristiano
Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney in the list, who earned €27.1m
and €23m respectively.
The ‘Fortunate 50’ takes into account the earnings,
endorsements, bonuses and appearance fees of leading
Tiger Woods is leading the way – earning a staggering
€46m last year, though that was down €20m on his
previous year’s earnings.
Despite being the highest earning footballer, the Camp
Nou superstar only came seventh on the overall sporting
list, behind the likes of Formula One driver Fernando
Alonso, who is a Real Madrid supporter himself.
Pique to Dani Alves: We have many enemies at Barcelona
The Spanish centre-back was overheard telling his
Brazilian team-mate that, like him, he is becoming a
contentious figure at the Catalan club
Gerard Pique was caught on camera telling Dani Alves the
duo have "enemies" at Barcelona.
The World Cup and two-time European Championship
winner has won a whole host of trophies at the club, yet
the centre-back finds himself having played only four of
the last eight games under Luis Enrique.
And while the husband of Colombian pop sensation Shakira
may feel like he has an indifferent relationship with
many at the Catalan club, he has now told fellow
defender Dani Alves that he too is in danger of becoming
a contentious figure at the club.
During Barca's training session on Friday, the
centre-back was caught on video by Welabo telling the
Brazilian: "Dani, you have many enemies here. You're
becoming like me."
Dani Alves has been subject to a lot of rumours
suggesting he will be leaving Camp Nou this summer when
his contract at the club expires, with a Premier League
switch most frequently touted.
Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo report that Pique told
Barcelona after the video began circulating on social
that he was only speaking to his Brazilian team-mate
within the context of training jokily, and that it was
not a reference to anything beyond that.
Man United agree permanent €56 million Falcao deal
United have agreed and shaken hands on a €56 million
deal to sign Radamel Falcao permanently when his loan
move ends at the end of the season, Goal can confirm.
United finalised terms with Monaco and Falcao when his
€8m season-long loan switch from the French club was
sealed on the last day of the summer transfer window.
The 20-time English champions will have the
option to activate the agreement at the end of the
season if they are satisfied with Falcao’s performances
and fitness. It is understood all parties fully expect
the deal to be made permanent.
Falcao currently receives a salary package worth
around €305,000 per week, and United have agreed and
signed paperwork on the same terms should the switch
materialise next summer.
Falcao’s agent, Jorge Mendes, has a close relationship
with United executives and the striker has expressed his
desire to stay at the club beyond this season.
Despite the perception that Falcao's move was a
last-minute swoop which only materialised in the final
hours of the transfer window, United had been
negotiating various terms with Mendes for a number of
But with the deadline approaching, all parties decided
on a season-long loan move and the details of a
permanent move were agreed and signed upon.
The loan agreement gives United the opportunity to
assess Falcao’s form and fitness after the serious knee
injury that ruled him out for the second half of last
season and caused him to miss the World Cup.
A transfer next summer will also be reflected more
favourably in United’s financial accounts having spent
more than €190m in the transfer market over the summer.
Falcao has scored one goal in five Premier League
appearances for United but missed Sunday’s 1-1 draw with
Chelsea after sustaining an injury in training last
Juventus managing director has claimed this week that
Falcao came close to joining the Italian champions in
the summer before United stepped in with a better offer.
"We were following him and there was contact," Marotta
told RAI. "We were very close to [signing] Falcao and
the player preferred Italy and our colours, but then
United came forward and they have much more spending
power than we do so the deal broke down."
United paid roughly €76m for Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera
at the start of the summer, broke the British transfer
record with a €76.3m move for Angel Di Maria and spent a
further €44m on Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind after
suffering a rocky start to the Premier League season in