Lionel Messi Notches 200th Barcelona Assist During Team’s 1-0 Win Over Huesca

Make that 200 assists for Lionel Messi

Barcelona moved to fifth place in La Liga with a victory at Huesca on Sunday, with the 33-year-old Argentine soccer star earning a special assist.

Lionel Messi

Frenkie de Jong scored in the 27th minute for Ronald Koeman‘s side, who are now unbeaten over their last six matches.

Messi provided the assist on de Jong’s goal, giving him 200 for his Blaugrana career.

It was Messi’s 500th appearance for Barcelona in La Liga when he took to the pitch at El Alcoraz for Sunday’s La Liga clash against Huesca.

The captain was back in the starting XI to lead his team out for their first game of 2021 after sitting out the draw against Eibar last time out.

Messi becomes the first non-Spanish player to reach 500 games in La Liga and is now just five behind Xavi’s record of La Liga appearances for Barca.

The Argentina international is also close to moving past Xavi and becoming Barca’s all-time appearance maker.

Xavi played in a total of 767 games for Barcelona, while Messi is now on 750.

Former goalkeeper Andoni Zubizarreta holds the record for the most La Liga appearances. He managed 622 during a career which saw him play for Athletic, Barcelona and Valencia.

Barca now have 28 points from 16 matches, one behind fourth-placed Villarreal and 10 behind table-toppers Atletico Madrid, who still have a game in hand.

Huesca sit at the bottom of the table with 12 points after 17 matches.

The Catalans next face Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday, while Huesca will host Real Betis on January 11.

DAZN to Debut “Club Ibiza: The Sessions” Documentary, Featuring UD Ibiza President Amadeo Salvo, on Christmas

Amadeo Salvo is opening up about his club days… 

Sports streamer DAZN has unveiled its latest original: Club Ibiza: The Sessions, a documentary going behind the scenes of Ibiza soccer club Unión Deportiva Ibiza, which features interviews with the 53-year-old Spanish entrepreneur and the side’s current president.

Amadeo Salvo

The documentary will take a look at UD Ibiza’s dreams of making it all the way to La Liga.

In addition to interviews with Salvo, the five-part series also features interviews with Italian soccer star Marco Borriello, who played for UD Ibiza.

The show’s exclusive title track was produced by DJ Carl Cox and features new music by Anna Tur and Manu Gonzalez. 

Club Ibiza: The Sessions is a DAZN Originals production in association with Cielo Azul.

John Alex Dennis and Best co-direct.

DAZN’s SVP of originals Best said: “This is the most beautiful football docu-series ever made, simply because its set on Ibiza. We know Ibiza as the dance music capital of the world but now football has become another reason to pay attention. No other series has captured the ambition and passion of football, with world famous DJs and these stunning landscapes.”

Club Ibiza: The Sessions will premiere on December 25 around the worl

Lionel Messi Moves Past Pele to Become the New Leader in the Single Club Goal Tally

Lionel Messi has overtaken a legend…

The 33-year-old Argentine professional soccer star has surpassed Brazil’s legendary footballer Pele to become the player to score the most goals for a single club after taking his tally to 644 on Tuesday.

Lionel Messi

The record-breaking goal came in the second half of Barca‘s 3-0 win at Valladolid, with Messi taking the ball in stride off a nifty flick from Pedri for a finish into the corner of the net.

Pele struck 643 competitive goals for Santos during an 18-year stay with the Brazilian club. He left for the New York Cosmos in 1975 and until Messi’s goal, the record had stood ever since.

 

Gerd Muller came closest to matching Pele’s one-club goal-scoring feat. The former Germany international netted 565 times for Bayern Munich between 1964 and 1979. The top five is completed by Fernando Peyroteo (Sporting CP 1937-49, 544 goals) and Josef Bican (Slavia Prague 1950s, 534 goals).

 

“When I started to play football, I never thought I would break any record. Especially not the record held by Pele that I now hold,” Messi wrote on Instagram after Tuesday’s game. “I can only give thanks to everyone that has helped me throughout the years, my teammates, my family, my friends and everyone that supports me every day.”

 

The only other active player still in the top 10 is Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored 450 goals for Real Madrid. The Juventus striker is 10th behind Jimmy McGrory (Celtic 1922-37, 522 goals), Jimmy Jones (Glenavon 1951-62, 517 goals), Uwe Seeler (Hamburg 1953-72, 507 goals) and Eusebio (Benfica 1961-75, 473 goals).

Messi’s Barcelona goals have been spread across 16 years in the club’s first team. He scored his first professional goal in 2005 against Albacete as a 17-year-old.

Along with Ronaldo, who played for Manchester United before Madrid and Juve, Messi has taken goal scoring to new heights over the past decade. Everyone else in the top 10 has been retired for at least 40 years.

Messi reached his zenith in the 2011-12 season, Pep Guardiola‘s final year in charge of Barcelona, when he scored 73 goals in all competitions. That tally was sandwiched in between 53 the previous season and 60 the season after.

The Argentina forward has scored more than 50 goals in a season on six occasions, including 58 in 2014-15 when he won his second Treble as a Barca player.

Messi replaced Cesar Rodriguez (232 goals) as Barca’s top scorer in 2012 and overtook Telmo Zarra (251 league goals) as the record scorer in La Liga in 2014.

In addition to his 644 goals with Barca’s senior side, he scored 11 goals for the C team and the B team as a teenager.

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.

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“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.

Giovanni Reyna Signs New Long-Term Contract with Borussia Dortmund

Giovanni Reyna isn’t going anywhere…

The 18-year-old half-Argentine American soccer player and U.S. Men’s National Team international has signed a new long-term contract with Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund until 2025.

Giovanni Reyna 

Reyna, who made his USMNT debut earlier this week against Wales, is regarded as one of the most promising talents in the Bundesliga.

Sources told ESPN there was interest in Reyna from the Premier League and La Liga, but he was focused solely on continuing his career with Dortmund.

BVB are a big club that can challenge for titles and are in all the important competitions,” Reyna said. “Young players in particular have the chance to develop here.

“I have already learned a lot in Dortmund and I want to learn a lot more in future. I look forward to being with BVB in the long term.”

Reyna signed an initial three-year deal when he agreed to join Dortmund from MLS side New York City in November 2018. He arrived at BVB in July 2019 and went on to make his debut in February 2020.

He has been an ever-present this season, making 12 appearances for Dortmund, scoring twice, and contributing five assists.

“It’s a great thing for Borussia Dortmund to have a player like Gio, he has a lot of potential,” coach Lucien Favre said at a pre-match news conference on Friday. “If he continues like this, then he’ll be an extremely important player for BVB throughout the future.”

Sporting director Michael Zorc added: “Gio’s development in recent months has been incredible. He will definitely be an important part of Borussia Dortmund’s sporting future.

“I am personally very pleased that he has decided to extend his contract with BVB in the long term with complete conviction.”

Reyna is part of Borussia’s highly rated bunch of young attackers along with Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland.

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Reyna’s debut for the USMNT was due to happen earlier this year, but the fixture schedule was interrupted due to COVID-19. Reyna has now followed in father Claudio Reyna‘s footsteps in playing for the USMNT.

Sergio Ramos Becomes Most Capped European Player Ever

There’s a new feather in Sergio Ramos’ cap(ped)…

The 34-year-old Spanish soccer player has become the most capped male European footballer ever, making his 177th appearance for Spain in their UEFA Nations League 1-1 draw with Switzerland on Saturday.

Sergio Ramos

But the milestone day almost turned into a nightmare as Ramos squandered two penalties in the stalemate, after not having not missed in his previous 24 attempts for either Spain or Real Madrid.

The defender — who captains both club and country — has now played one international game more than the previous record holder, former Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who retired from international duty in

Ramos is now targeting the world record held by Egypt‘s Ahmed Hassan, who played 184 games for his country between 1995 and 2012. The defender could reach that mark at next summer’s Euro 2020 tournament, if he features in all of Spain’s matches before then.

But Spain coach Luis Enrique said Ramos’s twin spot-kick misses wouldn’t affect his captain.

“Sergio’s numbers when it comes to taking penalties are in the reach of few players. If we had got a third penalty or a fourth one he would have taken them as well,” he said. “He had scored his last 25, but football has moments like this.”

The number one spot-kick taker for Real Madrid and Spain, despite being a defender, Ramos has turned penalty taking into an art in the last two years, with his last miss coming when he hit the crossbar in Madrid’s 3-2 defeat by Sevilla FC in May 2018.

He has confessed to relishing the high-stakes situation of a penalty, scoring a number of crucial spot-kicks in Real’s run to the La Liga title last season as well as netting from the spot in last month’s 3-1 win at Barcelona.

But he finally met his match in Swiss keeper Yann Sommer, who guessed the right way to parry Ramos’ first penalty early in the second half and then refused to be fooled by the Spaniard’s ‘Panenka‘ routine which has worked so well for him in the past.

“It’s a real shame that Ramos missed the penalties because he’s usually so good,” added Spain forward Dani Olmo.

“But he’s very strong mentally and I’m sure that the next time he takes a penalty he’ll score.”

Saturday’s start further entrenches a remarkable international career that began when he made his Spain debut in March 2005, coming on for Carles Puyol at half time in a 3-0 friendly win over China.

He initially featured as a right back — including at Euro 2008, Spain’s first tournament win in 44 years, and in the country’s only World Cup winning side in 2010 — before switching to centerback for their defense of the European Championship title in 2012.

Despite turning 35 next March, he has expressed a desire to feature not just at the Euros in June, but also the Tokyo Olympics, describing the possibility as “a nice idea, an event no-one would say no to.”

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.

James Rodriguez Leaving Real Madrid for Everton FC

James Rodriguez is officially headed to the England…

The 29-year-old Colombian soccer player has joined Everton FC from Real Madrid, the Premier League club has announced.

James Rodriguez

The clubs have agreed a €25 million fee, according to ESPN. The deal will officially be for two years with an option for a third.

This is the third time Rodriguez has linked up with coach Carlo Ancelotti, having worked together at Real Madrid during the 2014-15 season and Bayern Munich in the 2017-18 season.

“I am really, really happy to be at this great club, a club with so much history, and here with a manager who knows me really well,” James told the Everton’s website.

“I’m looking forward to achieving great things here — and winning things, which is what everyone’s aim is. I’ve come here to try to improve, to get better. I’ve also come here to help the team to win, to play good football — entertaining football.”

Ancelotti’s presence at Goodison Park is understood to have been critical in getting a deal done.

“James… is a fantastic player with a lot of quality and a lot of ability to make assists for the strikers,” Ancelotti said.

“He was really excited to sign and I didn’t spend time to convince him — he was already convinced.”

Rodriguez is Everton’s second major signing in the close-season following the arrival of Brazilian midfielder Allan from Napoli.

Everton finished 12th last term and begin their new Premier League campaign with a trip to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

Rodriguez was desperate to leave the Bernabeu this summer to restart his career after a disappointing final season in La Liga.

James had been given permission by Real Madrid to skip preseason training last week as the move was being finalized.

The playmaker signed with Real Madrid from AS Monaco for €80m in 2014 after excelling at the World Cup.

Manchester City Completes Signing of Ferran Torres

It’s official… Ferran Torres is headed to Manchester City.

The team has completed the signing of the 20-year-old Spanish professional footballerfrom Valencia CF, the club has announced.

Ferran Torres

Torres will move to the Etihad for a fee of €23 million plus add-ons, according to ESPN.

Torres, who has been capped six times with Spain’s Under-21 team, is Pep Guardiola‘s first signing of the summer.

Valencia were resigned to losing Torres, who had just one year left on his contract. He made 97 appearances for the La Liga side and scored nine goals.

He was made a prime target for Guardiola and director of football Txiki Begiristain following the sale of Leroy Sane to Bayern Munich.

“I am so happy to be joining City,” Torres said. “Every player wants to be involved in attacking teams and Manchester City are one of the most attacking in world football.”

“Pep encourages a really open, aggressive style, which I love, and he is a manager with a proven track record of improving players. To have him overseeing my development is a dream.

“City have won plenty of trophies in the last 10 years and I hope I can play a role in continuing that success.”