Juan Manuel Lillo Named Pep Guardiola’s Assistant at Manchester City

Juan Manuel Lillo is Pep’s Man (City)…

Manchester City has announced the 54-year-old  Spanish football manager’sappointment as Pep Guardiola‘s assistant.

Juan Manuel Lillo

Lillo replaces Mikel Artetawho left the Etihad Stadium to become Arsenal manager in December.

Lillo arrives from Chinese side Qingdao Huanghai having coached Guardiola during a spell in Mexico with Dorados Sinaloa in 2006.

Guadiola once called him the “best coach I ever had,” while Lillo has previously described the City boss as “one of the most important people in my life, like a son to me.”

“I am delighted to have joined Manchester City’s coaching staff,” Lillo said in a statement. “My relationship with Pep goes back many years and I am thrilled to be joining him as part of this exciting team.

“Manchester City has enjoyed much success over recent seasons and played a brand of beautiful football we have come to expect from this club and its manager.

“It’s a pleasure to become a part of this group and I hope to make an important contribution to the club’s success going forwards.”

Lillo became the youngest head coach in the Spanish top flight when he took UD Salamanca to the Primera Divisionin 1995 at the age of 29. He has had spells in Spain, Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Japan and China, where he left Qingdao Huanghai due to the coronavirus pandemic after leading the team to promotion to the Chinese Super League.

“We are delighted to welcome Juanma to Manchester City,” director of football Txiki Begiristain said.

“His vast experience working across three continents and with some of the most famous names in world football will be an invaluable asset to Pep and his team. “We look forward to him playing a vital role as we return to football.”

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.

Pablo Mari to Join Arsenal on Loan

Pablo Mari is headed to Londontown…

The 26-year-old Spanish professional footballer, currently a central defender for the Brazilian club Flamengo, has agreed a move to Arsenal on loan until the end of the season, with the option to make the deal permanent in the summer.

Pablo Mari

The move ends what turned out to be a topsy-turvy transfer deal that initally stalled and saw the defender return to Brazil.

The clubs seemingly agreed to the deal last weekend, with Mari traveling from Rio de Janeiro to London to undergo a medical and sign with the Premier Leagueside.

However, negotiations suffered a setback on Mondaywith Mari then returning to Brazil.

Mari put pressure on the Flamengo’s hierarchy to accept Arsenal’s offer and sources told ESPN the deal was never dead despite Flamengo putting out a statement criticizing Arsenal’s attitude.

Nonetheless, the deal now sees Mari reunite with Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta. Mari was on Manchester City‘s books between 2016 and 2019 — where Arteta served as an assistant for Pep Guardiola— but never actually played for the first team.

He’s due to return to London now that the deal is agreed and become Arteta’s first signing at Arsenal.

“Pablo is an experienced player who will provide us with additional defensive quality,” Arsenal technical director Edusaid.

“We have been monitoring Pablo’s career for a while and we are very pleased to have reached agreement with Flamengo for him to join us initially until the end of our season.

“Together with Mikel and his coaching team, we are all looking forward to seeing Pablo in an Arsenal shirt.”

Mikel Arteta Agrees to Become Arsenal’s New Manager

It’s official… Mikel Arteta has some new arsenal

The 37-year-old Spanish professional football coach and former player has agreed to become Arsenal‘s new manager and will sign a three-and-a-half-year deal as soon as the paperwork is finalized, according to ESPN.

Mikel Arteta

The club hopes to announce his appointment on Thursday and his first game will be the Premier League test against Everton on Saturday at Goodison Park, where he played between 2005 and 2011.

As previously reported, Arteta was the only candidate the club wanted to replace Unai Emeryand take the place of interim head coach Freddie Ljungberg.

Talks between Arteta and his former club, whom he played for between 2011 and 2016, have gone on since Sunday and a final agreement was found on Wednesday.

His final interview with Josh Kroenkeon Tuesday went very well. The Manchester City coach got reassurances on the direction of the club as well as a transfer budget.

It will be Arteta’s his first experience as manager of a club’s first team after three-and-a-half years working alongside Pep Guardiolaat City.

Arteta, who will be under contract until June 2023, is now working on building his coaching staff. Ljungberg should be part of it, as should City coach Rodolfo Borrell, sources said.

Arteta will say farewell to City after their Carabao Cupgame at Oxford Unitedon Wednesday evening where he will be on the bench alongside Guardiola.

Former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss Guardiola, who has been a friend of Arteta’s since they were 15, has encouraged him to take the job.

Mikel Arteta Reportedly to be Named Next Arsenal FC Manager

Mikel Arteta could be leading the Arsenal Football Club in the near future…

The 37-year-old Spanish professional football coach and former player, the current Manchester City assistant, is set to be named the next Arsenal manager in the coming days, according to ESPN, despite the Etihad club’s disappointment with the way the Gunners have pursued their former club captain.

Mikel Arteta

Chief negotiator Huss Fahmyand managing director Vinai Venkateshamtraveled to Manchester after Arsenal’s defeat to City over the weekend and spent more than two hours at Arteta’s home in Cheshire, discussing the job.

Arteta was set to meet with Josh Kroenke, the son of owner Stan Kroenke, on Monday. The American was at the game on Sunday and was set to interview the Spaniard alongside Raul Sanllehi, the head of football at the club, and Venkatesham and Fahmy.

City have not yet received a formal approach for Arteta and were left bewildered by the images appearing to show the Sunday meeting at Arteta’s home. And sources have told ESPN that City bosses were surprised they were not approached for talks — either formal or informal — on Sunday despite spending the day at the Emirates, although they will not stand in the way of the Spaniard if he decides to take the job at the Emirates.

Should Arteta be offered the job and decide to succeed interim manager Freddie Ljungberg, Arsenal would have to pay a substantial compensation fee, believed to be seven figures.

Arteta spent five years at the Emirates under Arsene Wenger(2011 to 2016) before spending the past three and a half years as Pep Guardiola‘s assistant at the Etihad. He has a contract with City until 2021 but is keen on rejoining Arsenal.

Arteta was nearly handed the job 18 months ago, but Unai Emerywas preferred by then-CEO Ivan Gazidis.

Freddie Ljungberg has been interim manager since the sacking of Emery last month, but the Swede, who pleaded with the club to resolve its manager situation quickly, has struggled to have an impact. The former Gunner could remain in Arteta’s staff, though, if the Spaniard does indeed replace him.

Arteta certainly lacks managerial experience, as he has never been in charge of a club’s first team, but he is highly thought of by the Arsenal hierarchy and by the people who have worked with him at Manchester City.The Gunners are in crisis at the moment with just one win in their past 12 matches in all competitions. Yet, they are still only seven points from fourth place in the table. and sources say Arteta believes he can turn things around once in charge.

Arteta Joins Coaching Staff at Manchester City

Mikel Arteta is headed back to the field in a new role…

The 34-year-old retired Spanish professional footballer, a former captain for the Arsenal Football Club, is joining Pep Guardiola‘s coaching staff at the Manchester City Football Club.

Mikel Arteta

The midfielder’s contract with Arsenal expired on June 30 after a five-year stint at the club, and he had already stated that he expected to take up a coaching role next season.

His move to Manchester City had been widely expected, with Guardiola keen on making him part of the new backroom staff at the Etihad as the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach prepares for his first season in the Premier League.

“The opportunity to join Pep Guardiola and his team was an amazing opportunity for me and I am incredibly excited for the future,” Arteta wrote in a statement he posted on social media.

Arteta captained Arsenal over the last two seasons but struggled with injuries over the last year and was rarely part of Arsene Wenger‘s first-team squad.

He came on as a late substitute for a farewell appearance in the final game of the Premier League season in May and was given a rousing send-off by the Emirates crowd.

He leaves the club having won two Football Association Challenge Cup (FA Cup) titles, and also spent the last couple of years working on his coaching badges at Arsenal as he prepared for life after his playing career.

“Throughout my career I have always been interested in more than just the playing side and have had a passion for helping progress and develop the team outside of just my own role as a player,” Arteta said.

“Coaching has always been something I’ve been keen to go in to and over the past few years I’ve worked hard off the pitch as well as on it to develop my skills in order to put me in a position to be able to pursue a coaching role once I finished playing.

“I’ve been lucky enough to play under some amazing coaches and managers during my playing career and I hope to use elements of everything I’ve learnt from them as well as experience from my own playing career to help City achieve success.”

Messi Breaks Champions League Goal-Scoring Record

Lionel Messi has shattered another record…

The 27-year-old Argentine soccer star broke the Champions League goal-scoring record with the 72nd of his career during Barcelona‘s Group F game against APOEL on Tuesday. He then went on to cap the feat by completing a hat trick.

Lionel Messi

Messi entered Barca‘s game tied with Real Madrid legend Raul with 71, and took the record after diverting Rafinha‘s goal-bound shot into the net in the 38th minute. He then added his 73rd and 74th career competition goals in the second half.

Messi matched the record in just 90 games, while Raul played in 142 Champions League games for Madrid.

Cristiano Ronaldo is also in the race for the record, with the Real Madrid star having scored 70 Champions League goals in 106 appearances. The Portuguese forward could well surpass Messi’s total against Basel on Wednesday.

The achievement was the second goal-scoring record Messi has broken in a week. He moved past Telmo Zarra’s La Liga tally of 251 goals with a hat trick against Sevilla on Saturday.

Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola said Messi’s Liga record — which currently stands at 253 goals — will not last for 60 years, but 600 years.”

Alonso Agrees to Two-Year Deal with Bayern Munich

Xabi Alonso is leaving his beloved home country and heading to Germany…

The 32-year-old Spanish soccer star has agreed to a two-year contract with Bayern Munich for an undisclosed fee.

Xabi Alonso

Alonso had been a midfielder for Real Madrid for five years following his £30m move from Liverpool in 2009.

Alonso, a Champions League winner in May, had just signed a new two-year deal in January.

Bayern moved for Alonso after Toni Kroos joined Madrid following the World Cup and fellow Spaniard Javi Martinez was ruled out until 2015 with a knee injury.

“He has bags of experience and a big personality,” said Bayern boss Pep Guardiola.

“We need a player with his quality and vision. I know he’s 32 but that doesn’t matter in this position, where you need intelligent players, rather than the legs and stamina for the flanks.”

“I had a great time here, we have won big things and now a new chapter opens for me. It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to take,” said Alonso. “The club did not want me to go. It was my decision and I asked them to understand. The club didn’t share my idea but they understood my need to start a new chapter, to start from zero in a new club.”

Alonso, who won two European Championships and a World Cup with Spain, joined Liverpool from Real Sociedad in 2004 where he won the Champions League at the end of his first season.

Messi Wins Record Fourth Ballon d’Or

Lionel Messi is officially in a league of his own…

The 25-year-old Argentine fútbol has become the first four-time winner of the Ballon d’Or, FIFA’s Player of the Year award, after breaking the world record for most goals in a year with 91 goals for Barcelona and Argentina.

Lionel Messi

Messi won for the fourth straight time, beating Real Madrid‘s Cristiano Ronaldo and his fellow Futbol Club Barcelona teammate Andres Iniesta in voting announced Monday. His 91 goals topped Gerd Mueller‘s mark of 85 for Bayern Munich and Germany back in 1972.

Messi received 41.60 percent of the points in votes by national team coaches and captains plus selected media. Ronaldo got 23.68 percent and Iniesta 10.91 percent.

“To tell the truth, this is really unbelievable to get the fourth award. I am so nervous,” Messi said in Spanish, wearing a black tuxedo jacket and bow tie, both with a white polka-dot pattern in an unexpectedly flamboyant touch.

U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann and captain Carlos Bocanegra both voted Messi first, as did Soccer America’s Paul Kennedy.

Zinedine Zidane of France and Ronaldo of Brazil were voted FIFA Player of the Year three times before the award merged in 2010 with France Football’s Golden Ball, given to the European player of the year. The Golden Ball, or Ballon d’Or, was won three times by Michel Platini of France and Johan Cruyff and Marco van Basten of the Netherlands.

Vicente del Bosque was voted top men’s coach after leading Spain to its third straight title in a major tournament, the 2012 European Championship. Del Bosque got 34.51 percent to win over Real Madrid’s Jose Mourinho (20.49), who won last year, and Pep Guardiola (12.91) who won in 2011 and retired from Barcelona last spring.

The three men’s Player of the Year candidates were on the World XI All-Star team chosen by the FIFPro group of players’ unions, comprising 50,000 members worldwide.

They selected a team composed entirely of players from Spanish clubs, with nine repeating their selection from one year ago.

Real Madrid captain Iker Casillas was selected as goalkeeper, joined on defense by teammates Sergio Ramos and Marcelo and by Barcelona’s Dani Alves and Gerard Pique. Iniesta was joined in midfield by Barcelona teammate Xavi Hernandez and Real Madrid’s Xabi Alonso. Messi led the attack with Ronaldo and Atletico Madrid‘s Radamel Falcao. Marcelo and Falcao replaced Manchester United’s Nemanja Vidic and Wayne Rooney from the 2011 team.

Messi Gunning for History-Making Fourth Ballon d’Or

Lionel Messi is one step closer to making serious soccer history this January…

The 25-year-old Argentine fútbol star has been named as a finalist for the 2012 Ballon d’Or, which honors the world’s best soccer player.

Lionel Messi

Messi, who claimed his second Golden Boot in October for being the top scorer in the European national leagues, will compete against Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Spain’s Andres Iniesta for the honor, FIFA and France Football announced  Thursday.

Messi has won the award for the last three years, while Ronaldo took the prize in 2008. First-time finalist Iniesta was the MVP of the 2012 European Championship. Should Messi earn his fourth consecutive award, he’d become the only player to win the award four times.

Iniesta and Messi are teammates at Futbol Club Barcelona, while Ronaldo plays for Real Madrid.

“We’re not at the level of the Oscars, but we’re not very far from that ceremony either,” Blatter said.

Nominated for Coach of the Year are Vicente Del Bosque of the Spanish national squad, Pep Guardiola – late of Barcelona – and Jose Mourinho, manager of Real Madrid.

Brazil’s Marta and two members of the U.S. team, Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan, will compete for the title of Women’s Player of the Year. The contenders for Coach of the Year in women’s soccer are Bruno Bini of France, Norio Sasaki of Japan and Sweden’s Pia Sundhage.

The Puskas trophy for goal of the year will go to either Colombian Radamel Falcao Garcia, Brazil’s Neymar or Slovak Miroslav Stoch.

The names of all the winners will be revealed at a January 7 gala in Switzerland.