Lionel Messi Dedicates Latest Goal to the Late Diego Maradona

Lionel Messi is paying tribute to a soccer legend… 

The 33-year-old Argentine futbol star dedicated a goal to the late Diego Maradona in his return to the F.C. Barcelona team in a 4-0 romp against Osasuna on Sunday.

Lionel Messi

Messi, who’d been rested for the 4-0 win against Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League on Tuesday, scored the fourth goal and celebrated by revealing a Newell’s Old Boys shirt in Maradona’s honor, following his death at the age of 60 on Wednesday.

Messi began his youth career at Newell’s before joining Barcelona and Maradona was on the books at the Rosario-based club at around the same time, toward the end of his playing career.

The Catalans had paid homage before kickoff to Maradona, who played for the club in an eventful yet disappointing spell from 1982 to 1984, hanging a framed signed shirt of his above the presidential box while the players held a minute’s silence in front of an old Barca shirt bearing the No. 10.

Barca, who had begun the day 14th in La Liga, won comfortably with Martin BraithwaiteAntoine Griezmann and Philippe Coutinho also on the score sheet.

“Maradona deserved an emotional tribute like that, we have lost a global idol,” Coutinho said. “Everyone in football admired him and we’ll all miss him.”

Griezmann added: “We didn’t know what Messi had prepared in tribute to Maradona, it was a beautiful surprise.

Luis Suarez Signs with Atletico Madrid

Luis Suarez is headed to the capital city…

Atletico Madrid have signed the 33-year-old Uruguayan professional footballer from FC Barcelona.

Luis Suarez

Barca confirmed on Wednesday that Suarez will leave for the Spanish capital and will hold a farewell press conference on Thursday.

Suarez joins Atletico on a free transfer, although Barca could make up to €6 million on the move based on a number of performance-related variables.

The deal is expected to be for two years, with Atletico stating the deal is subject to a medical examination.

Atletico coach Diego Simeone was the driving force behind the move for Suarez, which fell into place once Alvaro Morata joined Juventus on loan on Tuesday.

The Rojiblancos, like Barca, are in a period of financial uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic and needed to make room on their wage bill before signing new players.

The move draws parallels with David Villa‘s switch from Barca to Atletico in 2013. With Villa up front, Simeone’s side won the La Liga title and reached the Champions League final, knocking Barca out along the way.

Suarez, who recently became the third-highest scorer in Barca’s history with 198 goals, was told he was surplus to requirements by new coach Ronald Koeman last month.

That prompted the player’s legal team to begin talks with the Catalan club over the early termination of his contract, which had one year left to run.

An agreement was eventually brokered on Monday, which would see Suarez give up a percentage of what he was owed in exchange for being allowed to leave for free.

But, when it came out that he planned to join Atletico, Barca, who didn’t want to strengthen a direct rival for free, backtracked on the original agreement.

Sources told ESPN that Suarez was furious at the club’s U-turn, but a meeting between Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu and the player’s lawyers on Tuesday helped get things back on track.

Suarez had previously rejected the chance to join Inter Miami, who offered him the chance to become the highest-ever paid player in Major League Soccer with a deal worth around €8m annually.

He also looked close to joining Juventus at one time. To move to the Serie A champions, though, he needed to obtain Italian citizenship, which meant passing a language exam in Perugia last week.

The striker leaves Barcelona six years after signing from Liverpool for €75m. During his time at Camp Nou, he won 14 trophies, including four La Liga titles and one Champions League.

Neymar Signs with Puma for Long-Term Partnership

Neymar is reppin’ a new brand…

Puma has announced the signing of the 28-year-old Brazilian soccer star after the Paris Saint-Germain player left Nike following a 15-year association.

Neymar’s arrival was announced on the Puma website alongside the banner “The king is back” and “Welcome to the family Neymar JR.”

Neymar wrote in a statement on his Twitter page: “At the beginning of each new season, I take some time to think about my career and the choices I have made. I think about the dreams I had when I started this sport, and the path that lies ahead.

“This will be a different season, a special season. For that reason, as I have done in the past, I decided to write this text.

“I am about to live a unique experience, a new challenge. I consider myself privileged to have had a life filled with unique experiences and wonderful challenges.

“I grew up watching videos of great football legends such as Pele, Cruyff, Matthaus, Eusebio and Maradona … These were the kings of the pitch, the kings of my sport. And they had something in common — a love of the game, a drive to be the best version of themselves and a spirit that unites all. It’s not always about being the best or the greatest but instead, to inspire future generations. That is exactly what I have dreamt of for myself, to give all of me to football because football has given me everything I have. I want to do it my way, using my gift.

“New challenges, new responsibilities, I understand that. I wish to bring back the legacy that those athletes created on the pitch. I was to help bring back memories from each of their football histories and the magic they gave us in their classic leather boots — and through boots like those, leave behind my own legacy. They each played in PUMA, and each of them created their magic in The KING.

“And so now, as I begin this new season, I want the KING to reign on the pitch and inspire generations as it has inspired me and others.

“To be in this project, associating myself to those Kings of football, through KING, it is a dream. For these reasons, from today onward, I have the honour to unite with the brand that helped the biggest legends of football become what they are. Every time I lace my boots, my KING boots, I will do anything to achieve all of my dreams to honour my name and that of all those great ones who wore the KING before me. This will be my PUMA history. The KING is back!”

Sources told ESPN that only four executives knew about the deal to land Neymar and it was “a big secret in the company” that they had been working to sign the player for several months.

He returned to training with PSG on Friday after missing their opening Ligue 1 fixture of the campaign, a 1-0 defeat at Lens, following a positive test for the coronavirus.

Neymar joined PSG from Barcelona in 2017 for a world-record €222 million fee and has won three Ligue 1 titles in Paris. He also helped the French club reach the Champions League final in August, where they were beaten 1-0 by Bayern Munich.

During his time at Barca he won the Champions League, FIFA Club World Cup and two La Liga titles.

Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez Headed to Saudi Pro League’s Al-Nassr FC

Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez is headed to the Middle East…

Atlanta United FC have transferred the 27-year-old Argentine soccer player, an MLS All-Star midfielder, to Al-Nassr FC of the Saudi Pro League.

Gonzalo "Pity" Martinez

The transfer fee wasn’t disclosed. The transaction opens a designed player spot and an international spot on United’s 2020 roster.

Martinez tallied two goals and two assists in seven MLS matches this season. He added two goals and two assists in three games in Champions League competition.

In his first season with Atlanta in 2019, he was named an MLS All-Star with five goals and nine assists and helped the team win the U.S. Open Cup and the Campeones Cup.

“We want to thank Pity for his contributions to our club for the past two years,” said Atlanta United vice president and technical director Carlos Bocanegra. “He will forever be a part of Atlanta United’s history after playing an integral part in our 2019 season in which we lifted two trophies. We’ll look to be diligent in our efforts to fill that roster spot during this window.”

The native of Argentina transferred from River Plate and joined Atlanta as a designated player on January 24, 2019.

Arsenal Sign Gabriel from Lille

Gabriel Magalhaes has an arsenal behind him…

The 22-year-old Brazilian soccer player has been signed by Arsenal F.C. from Lille, the Premier League club has revealed.

Gabriel Magalhaes

ESPN reported last month that Gabriel, as he’s known, had agreed a deal that will cost Arsenal €30 million (£27m).

“So many fans were sending me messages asking me to join Arsenal, and that played a big part in me signing for this club,” Gabriel told Arsenal Digital.

“I know the history and traditions of this club and it is a pleasure being here. I am very happy and hope I can contribute to many titles with the Arsenal shirt.

“It was a very surreal experience, there were offers coming from a few different clubs.

“I spoke a lot with my family and my agents, I also spoke with some of Lille’s directors, but as I said, this club’s history and traditions and the team project for the next few years were very motivational for my decision to come here.

Manchester UnitedEverton and Napoli were all reported to be interested in the Brazil under-20 international, who has helped the French side secure Champions League football for the last two seasons.

“We welcome Gabriel to Arsenal. He has many qualities which will make us stronger as a defensive unit and as a team,” said Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta. “He has proved with Lille that he is a defender with many outstanding attributes and we are looking forward to watching him grow as an Arsenal player.”

Thiago Silva Agrees to Two-Year Deal with Chelsea F.C.

Thiago Silva is switching sides

The 35-year-old Brazilian professional footballer will sign a two-year deal for Chelsea F.C. this week after leaving Paris Saint-Germain, according to ESPN.

Thiago Silva

The PSG captain’s contract at the French club ran out at the end of the previous campaign, but he played all the Champions League knockout matches — including in the team’s 1-0 final defeat to Bayern Munich — but was not offered a new deal after eight years at the Parc des Princes.

Silva has agreed to personal terms with Chelsea, although minor details are still left to sort out. He’ll reportedly have his medical on Thursday ahead of his official signing.

The big attraction for Chelsea is they won’t have to pay a transfer fee for the former AC Milan defender.

Silva feels he can still play at the top European level for three or four years. He wanted a two-year deal and Chelsea were happy to offer it him.

PSG boss Thomas Tuchel wanted to keep him in Paris but sporting director Leonardo was against it.

Silva had also been offered a two-year deal by Fiorentina, but has opted to join Chelsea rather than return to Serie A.

Manchester City to Pay Tribute to David Silva with Statue

David Silva may be leaving Manchester City, but his likeness will live on…

Manchester City has announced that they’ll erect a statue of the 34-year-old Spanish footballer outside Etihad Stadium as a tribute to the player as he leaves after 10 years with the club.

City’s Champions League exit to Lyon on Sunday marked his final game after he announced in June that he’d leave Manchester at the end of the 2019-20 season.

Silva won 11 trophies with the club including four Premier League titles, two FA Cups, five League Cups and three Community Shield trophies.

“David Silva is a transformational player; a quiet leader who has acted quietly and deliberately and inspired everyone around him, from the youngest academy player to his senior teammates over the past 10 years,” City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarakn said in a statement.

“He has put a stamp on the team, on this club, its history and even the Premier League as a whole. In doing so he has been instrumental to the beautiful football philosophy you see today. He was the start of it.”

City announced in 2019 that a similar statue would be erected of former City captain Vincent Kompany, with both statues are set to be unveiled in 2021.

Capped 125 times by Spain, Silva won the World Cup in 2010 and the European Championship in 2008 and 2012.

He told ESPN last year that he’d like to end his career playing for Las Palmas, his hometown club on the island of Gran Canaria.

“Ten years for me is enough. It’s the perfect time for me,” he said of his departure.

“Initially, City were talking about two years, but I decided to sign [for] another one, so I finished at 10 years.

“It completes the cycle. It’s a nice round figure. I can never see myself playing against City for another team. So 10 years — that’s it.”

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.

Formiga Signs One-Year Contract Extension with Paris Saint-Germain’s Women’s Side

Formiga is staying in the game…

The 42-year-old Brazilian footballerwill extend her professional career into a 27th season after signing a one-year contract extension with Paris Saint-Germain‘s women’s side.

Formiga

Formigais the French side’s vice-captain and is now tied to the club until the summer of 2021.

Formiga – whose full name is Miraildes Maciel Mota– has been in Paris since January of 2017 when she joined from Sao Jose.

She scored four goals en route to winning the 2018 Coupe de Franceand has made 77 PSGappearances. She set the record for the oldest female scorer in European competition at 41 years and 193 days when she found the net in a 7-0 rout of Sporting Bragain the Champions Leagueround-of-16 first leg in September 2019.

In 2015, Formiga became the oldest scorer at a women’s World Cupwhen she netted at the age of 37 years, three months and six days.

She broke another record in France last summer when she played in her seventh World Cup– 24 years after the first of her 195 caps, in which she has scored 29 goals.

Formiga was also a Copa Americawinner with Brazil in 2018 and has made six Olympic appearances with the aim of retiring from the professional game after the rearranged 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

PSG were second to Lyon in the table, three points behind and due to host the leaders next, when football was brought to a global standstill by the coronavirus.

Although the French Football Federationhave since announced that the 2019-20 season has been brought to premature end, Lyon have not yet been officially crowned champions for a record 14th time.

Gio Reyna Becomes Youngest American to Play in the Champions League

Gio Reyna’s name has been etched in the soccer history books…

The 17-year-old part-Argentine American soccer player made his Champions League debut on Tuesday for Borussia Dortmund against Paris Saint-Germain, becoming the youngest American to play in Champions League at 17 years and 97 days.

Gio Reyna

Reyna was promoted to the Dortmund senior squad in January after only having joined the club’s academy in the summer of 2019 and has since gained game time in every match. 

A member of the U.S. squad at last year’s Under-17 World Cup, Reyna made his senior team debut for Dortmund on January 18 in a Bundesliga match at Augsburg.

Reyna had already scored in Dortmund’s German Cupdefeat at Werder Bremenearlier this month, but was instrumental for his side on Tuesday as he set up Erling Haaland’s second goal in a 2-1 first-leg win over PSG.

At 17 years, 3 months. 5 days, Reyna bettered the mark for youngest American set by Gedion Zelalemwhen he played for Arsenalat 17 years, 317 days old. Chelsea star Christian Pulisicwas four days shy of his 18th birthday when he made his Champions League debut while with Dortmund in a group phase opener at Legia Warsawin 2016. Pulisic started and assisted on Dortmund’s fifth goal in a 6-0 win.

His father, USMNTgreat Claudio Reyna, appeared in eight Champions League group phase matches for Glasgow Rangersin 1999 and 2000 and also scored a key goal in a Champions League qualifier in 1999 against UEFA Cupchampion Parma. Claudio scored eight goals in 112 appearances for the U.S. from 1994 to 2006, appearing in three World Cups. Gio Reyna’s mother, Danielle Egan Reyna, scored one goal in six appearances for the U.S. women’s side in 2003.

Speaking to reporters after Tuesday’s match, Gio Reyna said he was proud the team got such an important victory and of his assist to Haaland for the winner, only two minutes after Neymar levelled the score.

“A lot of emotions are going through my head right now,” he said. “To get my Champions League debut against Paris was a dream come true for me. To get an assist was even better.

“We knew Paris are such a good team. And the result is the most important thing. The way we fought as a team was so impressive,” he said. “Our work ethic and our will to win games really showed tonight.”

“It’s a super pass from Reyna,” Dortmund coach Lucien Favresaid of the ball that set up Haaland’s goal. “He plays it in brilliantly. He orients the ball very, very quickly.