Barcelona to Exercise Option to Sign Gustavo Maia

Gustavo Maia is heading to Spain…

FC Barcelona has exercised the option to sign the promising 19-year-old Brazilianstriker, according to ESPN.

Gustavo Maia

Earlier this year, Barcelonaagreed to pay €1 million to secure the first refusal on the Sao Paulo FC striker this summer, the Brazilian club’s director of football Alexandre Passaro confirmed.

Maia is expected to represent Barca B next season, where he’ll look to break into the first team.

Sao Paulo will retain 30% of Maia’s future sale. The operation will allow the Brazilian club to pay some of its debts related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Maia arrived at Sao Paulo at 14 and was tied to the club until 2022. He won seven titles with Sao Paulo’s youth teams and had his best season in 2018 when he scored 30 goals in 36 games.

The suspension of Brazilian football in March due to the pandemic prevented Maia from making his first team debut.

The versatile attacker, who can play on the left or through the middle, has been capped by Brazil at youth level.

His signing, once officially announced, will continue Barca’s aggressive pursuit of the best young talent from all over the world.

Lionel Messi: The World’s Highest Paid Latino Celebrity

Lionel Messi isn’t just making goals… He’s makin’ some serious bank…

Forbes magazine has released its list of the world’s highest-paid celebrities, with the 32-year-old Argentine professional footballer coming in at No. 5 with $104 million, making his the highest-paid Latino celebrity in the world.

Lionel Messi

Messi has been awarded both FIFA‘s Player of the Year and the European Golden Shoe for top scorer on the continent a record six times. His 438 goals, including 36 hat tricks for Barcelona, is a club and La Liga record.

Neymarcomes in at No. 7…

The 28-year-old Brazilian professional footballer, who plays as a forward for Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain and the Brazil national team, had reported earnings of $95.5 million.

Jennifer Lopez is the highest-paid Latina celebrity on Forbes’ list.

The 50-year-old Puerto Rican superstar,one of the more popular celebrities when it comes to endorsements, had earnings of $47.5 million. She has deals with VersaceDSWQuay sunglasses and her own fragrances.

The multi-hyphenate also produced and starred in the 2019 film Hustlers.

Lin-Manuel Miranda has made Forbes’ list for the first time…

The 40-year-old Puerto Rican Broadway star had reported earnings of $45.5 million.

The Hamilton creator and star added to his haul from the Broadway hit in February when Walt Disney paid $75 million for the rights to air the filmed version of his Founding Father musical. 

Other Latino/a celebrities making the list include Howie Dorough (along with his fellow Backstreet Boys), Sofia VergaraRobert Trujillo (along with his fellow Metallica band mates), Rafael Nadal and Canelo Alvarez.

Here’s a look at the Latino/as making this year’s list:

No. 5 Lionel Messi, $104 million
No. 7 Neymar, $95.5 million
No. 56 Jennifer Lopez, $47.5 million 
No. 62 Lin-Manuel Miranda, $45.5 million
No. 64 Backstreet Boys, $45 million
No. 71 Sofia Vergara, $43 million
No. 78 Metallica, $40.5 million
No. 80 Rafael Nadal, $40 million
No. 91 Canelo Alvarez, $37 million

Barcelona’s Luis Suarez Gets All-Clear to Return to the Pitch

Luis Suarez is officially back in commission…

The 33-year-old Uruguayan professional footballer and Barcelona striker has been given the green light to return to action almost five months after undergoing a knee operation

 Luis Suarez

Suarez last played for Barca in a 3-2 defeat to Atletico Madrid on January 9 and underwent surgery three days later to repair a problem in his right knee.

Suarez would have missed the remainder of the season had La Liga not been halted in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The striker’s return will be a boost for Barca manager Quique Setien, with Suarez having scored 11 goals and set up seven more in 17 league appearances before he sustained the injury.

Barcelona trained at the Camp Nou stadium for the first time since the coronavirus lockdown on Saturday.

Barca are set to return to action against relegation-threatened Mallorca on June 13.

Barca hold a two-point lead over rivals Real Madrid at the top of La Liga with 58 points after 27 games. Their last game in the league was a 1-0 victory over Real Sociedad on March 7.

Barcelona Expresses Interest in Eric Garcia

There’s growing interest in Eric Garcia… 

Futbol Club Barcelona has enquired about the 19-year-old Spanish footballer’s situation at Manchester City as they line up a potential move to bring the defender back to Camp Nou, according to ESPN.

Eric Garcia

Manchester City was quick to knock back Barca‘s initial approach, with high-ranking executives at the English club making it clear that Garcia isn’t for sale. 

Team manager Pep Guardiola is especially fond of Garcia and, while ManCity hope to sign a new centerback this summer, they also want to keep him involved as part of the first-team squad.

However, there is also an understanding at the club that the uncertainty over Guardiola’s long-term future could become a problem at some point. Players are also in the dark and with two years left on his contract, Garcia is in a strong negotiating position.

This provoked Barca to ask about his availability during recent talks between the two clubs regarding a possible swap deal involving right-backs Nelson Semedo and Joao Cancelo.

Garcia was considered one of the brightest prospects in Barca’s La Masia academy when he decided to leave in 2017 to join Premier League champions Manchester City,

Guardiola handed him his full debut in a League Cup game against Leicester in 2018 and he has made 11 appearances this season, starting twice in the league and once in the Champions League.

He’s also been capped five times by Spain under-21s and Barca have followed his development closely since he left three years ago.

A number of different sources at Barca said the club view Garcia as a “good fit” centerback for the team’s style of football. He was brought up on the club’s philosophy and one of his major strengths is his ability on the ball.

Barca, who missed out on Matthijs de Ligt to Juventus last summer, have been searching for a central defender for a long time as they contemplate a future without Gerard Pique, who turned 33 in February.

Manchester City’s reluctance to sell makes a move for Garcia this summer unlikely, especially as Barca expect to be less active in the transfer market due to the effects the coronavirus pandemic has had on their budget. They will focus on their main target, Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez, and will not have money left over to invest elsewhere.

But sources tell ESPN that Barca will not give up on Barcelona native Garcia in the long-term and will continue to monitor his situation as he moves into the final two years of his contract at the Etihad Stadium.

Lionel Messi: The World’s Highest Paid Latino Athlete

Lionel Messi is breaking the bank…

The 32-year-old Argentine soccer star is the highest-paid Latino on Forbes’ list of this year’s The World’s Highest-Paid Athletes.

Lionel Messi

Messi comes in at No. 3 on the list, behind Roger Federer and Cristiano Ronaldo, with earning reported at $104 million.

The Futbol Club Barcelona star’s earnings includes his $72 million salary with his team, as well as  $32 million in endorsements, including his lifelong deal with Adidas.

Nipping on Messi’s heels… Neymar.

The 28-year-old Brazilian footballer, on a five-year contract with Paris Saint-Germain through June 2022 worth $350 million, comes in at No. 4 with combined earnings of $95.5 million. 

Nike‘s Jordan Brand signed Neymar as its first soccer ambassador in 2016. In March 2020, its film unit released a movie about his life.

Messi and Ronaldo had previously held the No. 1 spot in three of the past four years.

Rafael Nadal comes in at No. 27 on the list.

The 33-year-old tennis star has combined earnings of $40 million. The greatest clay court player of his generation captured two of Grand Slam titles in 2019, his 12th French Open title and fourth U.S. Open.

Here’s a look at the Latino athletes making this year’s top earners list.

No. 3:  Lionel Messi, Soccer, Argentine, $104 million
No. 4:  Neymar, Soccer, Brazil, $95.5 million
No. 27:  Rafael Nadal, Tennis, Spain, $40 million
No. 30:  Canelo Alvarez, Boxing, Mexico, $37 million
No. 46:  Andres Iniesta, Soccer, Spain, $29.6 million
No. 56: Oscar, Soccer, Brazil, $27.5 million
No. 67: David de Gea, Soccer, Spain,  $25.7 million
No. 69: Alexis Sanchez, Soccer, Chile, $25.6 million
No. 79: Al Horford, Basketball, Dominican Republic, $24.4 million
No. 100: Sergio Ramos, Soccer, Spain, $21.8 million

Pepe Reina Joins Aston Villa on Short-Term Loan

Pepe Reina is headed to the United Kingdom…

The 37-year-old Spanish footballer and former Liverpool goalkeeper has joined Aston Villa on a short-term deal from AC Milan.

Pepe Reina

Reina, who has also played for BarcelonaVillarrealBayern Munich and Napoliand was part of the Spain squad that won the World Cup in 2010 and the European Championshipin 2008 and 2012, was mainly a back-up to Milan No. 1 Gianluigi Donnarumma during his time at the San Siro.

Reina spent eight years at Liverpool between 2005 and 2013, winning an FA Cup, a Football LeagueCup, a FA Community Shieldand a UEFA Super Cup.

He ended his Liverpool career with a yearlong loan move to Napoli before permanently joining Bayern in 2014. He lasted just one year at the Allianz Arenabefore returning to Napoli for three years.

Reina made his international debut against Uruguayin 2005 but spent much of his career with Spain as the second choice goalkeeper to Iker Casillas.

Villa were keen to sign a goalkeeper after their first choice Tom Heatonsustained a season-ending injury.

FC Barcelona Stepping Up Efforts to Bring Neymar Back Into the Fold

Will Neymar return to Spain?

Futbol Club Barcelona will reportedly step up the team’s efforts to sign the 27-year-old Brazilian professional footballer next summer, according to ESPN.

Neymar

The Barca hierarchy believes that Neymar is the natural replacement for Lionel Messi. The club believe it’ll be easier to bring Neymar back to Camp Nouonce Messi is gone, given that Neymar has already played there and there aren’t too many players at his level.

The Brazil international retains a good relationship with Barca despite his acrimonious exit to Paris Saint-Germainfor a world-record €222 million fee.

Mundo Deportivo‘s front page earlier this week said Barca will attempt to sign the forward depending on his performances during the second half of the season, when PSG will look to finally win the Champions League.

Neymar has a tense relationship with the French champions, who refused to let him join Barca last summer despite the club’s best efforts.

PSG’s owners continue to make things difficult for Barca, which could go to FIFAto decide a fee, given the player has been at the club for three years and has no release clause.

Lionel Messi Wins Record Sixth Ballon d’Or

Make that a whopping six for Lionel Messi

The 32-year-old Argentine soccer star became the first men’s footballer to win the Ballon d’Or award for a sixth time, taking the award for the world’s top men’s player on Monday at a Paris gala.

iLionel Messi

Messi scored 46 times for club and country in 2019 — including the only goal in FC Barcelona‘s 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid on Sunday. He also helped the Camp Nou side win La Liga.

Messi beat out Liverpooldefender Virgil van Dijk, who was instrumental in helping Liverpool win the Champions League, for the award voted on by a panel of international journalists.

“I am very lucky, I am blessed. I hope I will continue for a long time,” Messi told reporters. “I realize that I’m lucky even if one day it will be time to retire.

“It will be tough, but I still have some years ahead of me. Time flies, so I will enjoy football and my family.”

Messi also came out on top in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015 and he is now one clear of Cristiano Ronaldo, who has five.

Liverpool forward Sadio Mane finished fourth behind Ronaldo in the final voting.

“It was amazing,” Van Dijk said. “There are a couple of players like him [Messi] who are fantastic. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved with Liverpool and Holland. It’s going to be tough [to win the award] when these guys are around.”

Messi’s and Ronaldo’s 10-year grip on the award organized by France Footballmagazine was ended last year by Luka Modric.

But Messi was back on top of his game over the past 12 months. He scored 36 times last season en route to a 10th Spanish La Liga title, and was the Champions League top scorer. His goals in La Liga also made him the top scorer in Europe’s biggest leagues, earning him the Golden Shoeaward.

“A few years ago, I received my first Ballon d’Or here in Paris,” Messi said. “I was 22 years old. It was something unthinkable at the time. Today is my sixth Ballon d’Or. As my wife used to say, you should never stop dreaming but always work to improve and continue to enjoy yourself.”

United States soccer star Megan Rapinoewon the Women’s Ballon d’Oraward after being voted the tournament’s best player and joint top scorer as the USWNTwon the 2019 World Cupin France.

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson was the first-ever recipient of the Yachine Trophy, given to the best goalkeeper. The 27-year-old Brazilian international beat out Marc-Andre ter Stegen of Barcelona and countryman Ederson of Manchester City.

Dutchman Matthijs de Ligt, a key player in Ajax Amsterdam‘s thrilling run to the Champions League semifinals and now at Juventus, won the Kopa Trophyfor the best under-21 male player in the world.

Lionel Messi Leads Barcelona to 1-0 Win Over Atletico Madrid

Lionel Messi leads Barcelona back to the top of the standings…

The 32-year-old Argentine soccer star hit a sensational late goal on Sunday to give Barcelona FC a 1-0 win against rival Atletico Madrid, as the team reclaimed the top spot in La Liga from Real Madrid.

Lionel Messi

Messi, playing his 701st game for Barca, settled a pulsating and tense encounter in the 86th minute, galloping down the right wing before cutting inside and playing a one-two with Luis Suarez before guiding the ball into the bottom corner.

It was Messi’s first goal against Atletico at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium and gave his side their first win over their rivals at the ground in three attempts after successive draws in the last two seasons.

“Whenever you have a game like this which is really tight and really tough, being able to count on Messi is always an advantage,” said Barca coach Ernesto Valverde.

The strike saw Barca return to the top of the standings with 31 points after 14 games, ahead of Real Madrid on goal difference, while Atletico were left in the sixth spot with 25 points, having played one match more than Barca and Real.

Both sides hit the woodwork and Barca keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen also made two stunning saves, while Atletico felt that Gerard Pique should have been shown a second yellow card in the second half for a late tackle on Alvaro Morata.

Atletico were also fortunate not to have a player sent off when Vitolo slammed into Pique’s knee with a fierce challenge a few minutes later after picking up an earlier booking.

“We feel very hard done by,” said Atletico midfielder Saul Niguez. “We played superbly and Barcelona had hardly any chances but when Messi appears he is capable of doing anything and he made it look so easy, that’s why he is the best.”

Atletico had won only one of their previous six games in all competitions and looked intent on making an early statement as they came out pressing Barca high up the pitch and peppering their box with crosses.

Lionel Messi Among the Barcelona FC Teammates Featured in New Documentary “Matchday”

Lionel Messi is sharing his life story with the world…

Matchday, a new behind the scenes documentary about Barcelona FC‘s 2018-19 season gives viewers access to exclusive never seen before footage, including a special look at the 32-year-old Argentine soccer star.

Lionel Messi

The documentary, narrated by Hollywood actor John Malkovich, offers a glimpse into the life of one of the world’s biggest soccer stars.

The documentary centers on eight key games from last season where Barcawon La Liga and reached the semifinals of the Champions League, where it was blown away by Liverpoolin one of the greatest comebacks in the history of European football.

There’s also footage from outside the locker room with cameras being allowed into the players’ homes including a barbecue at Luis Suarez‘s house where he’s joined by Messi and Jordi Alba.

Gerard Piqueis also featured, spending time with his family, while Ivan Rakiticshows off his culinary skills and Marc-Andre ter Stegentalks about designing his new home.

Last week, in front of an adoring home crowd at the Camp Nouin a Champions League match against German team Borussia Dortmund, Messi made it 700 appearances for Barca, games in which he’s contributed 613 goals and 237 assists.

Messi scored one and set up two others as Barca claimed top spot in Group F with a 3-1 win over Dortmund.

Barca is just the latest big soccer club to allow cameras into the club. Manchester Cityand Juventushave both been subjects of documentaries while a series on Tottenhamis currently being filmed by Amazon.

The series, which consists of eight 45-minute episodes, is being broadcast by Rakuten TV , with the documentary also being shown in Japan.