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.

Lionel Messi Makes YouGov’s List of the World’s Most Admired Men

The world looks up to Lionel Messi

YouGov has released its annual study detailing which public figures the public looks up to, and the 32-year-old Argentine professional footballer has made the list.

Lionel Messi

Messi, a five-time Ballon d’Or awards winner who is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, comes in at No. 9 on YouGov’s World’s Most Admiredlist of men.

But Messi isn’t the only Latino to make the cut…

Pope Francis comes in at No. 15 on YouGov’s global list of the World’s Most Admired men.

But that’s not all. The 82-year-old Argentine pontiff, the head of the Catholic Churchand sovereign of the Vatican CityState, also appears on the list of America’s Most Admiredlist of men, coming in at No. 9.

He’s actually the only Latino in the Top 10 on the list America’s Most Admired men orwomen.

This year the study expanded to cover the views of people in 41 countries – the most ever – with more than 42,000 people being interviewed to compile the list.

YouGov's World's Most Admired
YouGov's America's Most Admired

Gabriel Jesus & Roberto Firmino Lead Brazil Into the Copa America Finals

Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino are hometown heroes…

The Brazilian soccer players scored the two goals that helped lead Brazil to a 2-0 victory against old rival Argentina in the Copa America semifinals.

Gabriel Jesus & Roberto Firmino

Both sides tried to impose themselves physically early on but it was Jesus who gave Brazil the lead after 19 minutes when Firmino sent in a low cross for the unmarked striker to side-foot home from close range.

The two combined again on the counter-attack after 71 minutes to make it 2-0 after great work from Jesus left Firmino with the simplest of tap-ins.

Brazil, who have lost twice in 42 games under coach Tite, will face either Peru or Chile in Sunday’s final at Maracana Stadiumin Rio de Janeiro and captain Dani Alves said their goal was within reach.

“There is one more step to go before we fulfil our objective,” he added. “The standard here is very high there are no easy teams. You have to work and fight for what you want and we worked for this.”

Argentina have not beaten Brazil in a major competitive fixture dating back to 2005 and that run rarely looked like ending in front of 52,000 fans at the Mineirao Stadiumin Belo Horizonte.

Sergio Aguero hit the bar with a header in the first half and Lionel Messi struck the post 11 minutes into the second period but the visitors had little luck in front of goal and were never on top for any length of time.

While the tournament has been plagued by lengthy stoppages for the video assistant referee (VAR), Tuesday’s officials preferred to let the game run, though Argentina were incensed VAR did not come into play when Arthur felled one of their players at a corner.

Messi, who has still not won a major title with Argentina, was more influential than in his first few matches here but was still a pale shadow of the player who has won everything with his club side.

“We had chances, the ball hit the woodwork, it flashed across the six-yard box, there were penalties that weren’t given,” said Messi, who like coach Lionel Scalonicomplained about the refereeing.

“Today it just didn’t happen.”

Argentina bow out after scoring just five goals in five games and are still looking for their first major title since lifting the Copa America in 1993.

“We knew that it would be difficult because of the players they have,” Brazil’s Casemiro said.

“It’s about details. We knew it would be scrappy and that there would be wind-ups and time wasting. But we have to congratulate our strikers who did a great job. When they got chances, they scored.”

Lionel Messi: The World’s Most Famous Latino Athlete

Lionel Messiis kickin’ it to the top of the popularity charts…

The 31-year-old Argentine soccer star is the top-ranking Latino on ESPN’s World Fame 100 list, which identifies the most famous athletes in the world.

Lionel Messi

Messi, a five-time Ballon d’Or winner who plays for the Spanish club BarcelonaFC and the Argentina national team, comes in at No. 3 on this year’s list, behind soccer rival Cristiano Ronaldo and NBAsuperstar LeBron James. It’s the same position Messi held last year.

The World Fame 100 ranks athletes based on their Google search score, their endorsement dollars and social media followers.

Nipping at Messi’s heels… Neymar.

The 27-year-old Brazilian soccer star, who plays for the Brazil national team and French club Paris Saint-Germain, comes in at No. 4, the same position he held in 2018.

Also earning a spot in the Top 10… Rafael Nadal.

The 32-year-old Spanish tennis star comes in at No. 8, two spots behind his rival Roger Federer. Nadal held the same ranking last year.

In all, Latino athletes took up 23 spots on the list, the majority of them international soccer players like Andres Iniesta (Spain), James Rodriguez (Colombia), Alexis Sanchez (Chile) and Javier Hernandez (Mexico).

Mexican boxer Canelo Alvarezis the sole Latino boxer on the list, at No. 68, while Puerto Rican basketball player Carmelo Anthony, at No. 65, is the only Latino basketball player to make the grade.

There are no Latina athletes on this year’s list, which features tennis sensation Serena Williams as the top female athlete at No. 17.

Here’s a look at the Latinos who made the World Fame 100:

Rank, Name, Sport, Country, Search Score, Endorsements, Social Stats
No. 3, Lionel Messi, Soccer, Argentina, 54, $28m, 103.1 million
No. 4, Neymar, Soccer, Brazil, 55, $19m, 107.2 million
No. 8, Rafael Nadal, Tennis, Spain, 40, $29.3m, 15.6 million
No. 27, Andres Iniesta, Soccer, Spain, 8, $2.2m, 26.7 million
No. 29, James Rodriguez, Soccer, Colombia, 11, $4.8m, 40.5 million
No. 36, Luis Suarez, Soccer, Uruguay, 6, $7.4m, 31.2 million
No. 38, Sergio Ramos, Soccer, Spain, 13, $4m, 28.7 million
No. 44, Marcelo Vieira, Soccer, Brazil, 4, $3.2m, 33.8 million
No. 48, Radamel Falcao, Soccer, Brazil, 4, $4m, 16.9 million
No. 52, Sergio Aguero, Soccer, Argentina, 1, $6m, 28.7 million
No. 53, David De Gea, Soccer, Spain, 3, $7m, 11.8 million
No. 55, Paulo Dybala, Soccer, Argentina, 4, $4.03m, 24.7 million
No. 56, Dani Alves, Soccer, Brazil, 2, $8.75m, 21.5 million
No. 61, Philippe Coutinho, Soccer, Brazil, 15, $3.1m, 19.3 million
No. 62, David Luiz, Soccer, Brazil, 1, $1.3m, 24.9 million
No. 65, Carmelo Anthony, Basketball, USA, 6, $7m, 9.1 million
No. 66, Gerard Pique, Soccer, Spain, 5, $3.8m, 18.6 million
No. 68, Canelo Alvarez, Boxing, Mexico, 44, $2.5m, 4 million
No. 72, Alexis Sanchez, Soccer, Chile, 24, $3.8m, 9.6 million
No. 79, Cesc Fabregas, Soccer, Spain, 1, $5m, 10.3 million
No. 80, Gonzalo Higuain, Soccer, Argentina, 7, $6m, 6.8 million
No. 81, Isco, Soccer, Spain, 2, $5m, 16.4 million
No. 88, Javier Hernandez, Soccer, Mexico, 6, $9.9m, 5.1 million

Lionel Messi to Play for the Argentina National Team in March

Lionel Messi will be kickin’ it for his homeland…

The 31-year-old soccer star, a forward for Barcelona, will return to the Argentina national team for their March friendlies against Venezuela and Czech Republic, according to ESPN, ending his self-imposed exile from the squad.

Lionel Messi

Messi has not featured for Argentina since captaining the team at the World Cup, where they were knocked out by winners France.

Argentina take on Venezuela in Madrid on March 22 and the Czech Republic in Dresden, Germany, four days later, with the friendlies part of their preparations for the Copa Americain June.

Argentina coach Lionel Scalonisaid last week he had “a good feeling” the five-time Ballon d’Orwinner would return in March.

Asked about Messi’s possible return, Scaloni told reporters: “We will probably talk days before we provide the list for the FIFAMarch window.

“When the time comes, we will speak to him, and we have a good feeling. I hope he can be with us and be happy.”

Scaloni, who took charge of Argentina on a temporary basis after the World Cup before accepting the role full-time last month, said his only regret so far was not having had the chance to coach Messi.

Messi, who spent Christmasin his native Rosario, has yet to publicly speak about his national-team future.

Lionel Messi Wins Record Fifth Golden Shoe as Europe’s Top Goal Scorer

Lionel Messi is making history again…

The 31-year-old Argentine soccer star has earned his fifth Golden Shoe prize for being the top goal scorer in Europe last season.

Lionel Messi

Messi, who said he never expected to have such a successful career, scored 34 times in La Liga last season to claim his fifth Golden Shoe award, one more than JuventusCristiano Ronaldo has won.

Messi beat out Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah to the prize after the Egyptian netted 32 times in the Premier League.

“When I started playing I did not expect all this. My dream was, obviously, to be a professional, but I didn’t imagine so much,” Messi said at a gala in Barcelona.

“This is thanks to hard work and effort and, above all, my teammates. I have the best players in the world in their positions playing beside me and that makes everything easier and lets me win these prizes.”

Messi, who also earned the Golden Shoe in 2009-10, 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2016-17, led Barcelona to a league and cup domestic double last season.

The forward leads La Liga’s top scorers chart with 14 goals in this campaign, more than any other player in the top five European leagues.

Lionel Messi Signs New Contract with Barcelona Until 2021

Lionel Messi isn’t going anywhere…

The 30-year-old Argentine soccer star has ended speculation about his future by signing a new contract with Futbol Club Barcelona until 2021.

Lionel Messi

Messi’s previous deal was due to expire at the end of the season, but this is the ninth professional contract the Argentina international has signed since he moved to Camp Nou and commits him to the club until he is 34.

Barca announced the news in an official club statement, which read: “FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi signed on Saturday morning a new contract that will keep the Argentinian superstar at the Club through the 2020/21 season.

“The buyout clause was set at €700m. Thus, by the time the new deal expires, Messi will have spent 17 years with the first team.”

On his official Twitter account, Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu said: “We are in luck with the Barça players. We continue to enjoy the best player in the history of football.”

Messi avoided the chance to clear up the doubts about his Barcelona contract situation as he accepted the European Golden Shoe award on Friday.

Barcelona had already announced that Messi had agreed to a new deal until 2021 in July but the forward had not yet signed the contract himself.

There had been some concern over his future as Barca allowed him to edge closer to the end of his deal.

At various points throughout the last year he was linked with a move away from Catalonia, with a number of clubs reported to be monitoring the situation, including Manchester City.

However, Barca always remained optimistic that he would renew, telling ESPN FC in November that they were confident he would pen a new deal.

Messi joined Barca in 2001 from Newell’s Old Boys, made his first-team debut against Espanyol in 2004 and has since gone on to win 30 trophies with the club, including eight La Ligas and four Champions Leagues.

Messi scored the first of his club record 523 goals — they have come in just 602 matches — against Albacete in May 2005 and has since claimed the Ballon d’Or on five occasions, more than any other player.