Rafael Marquez Returning to FC Barcelona as Barca Atletic’s Coach

Rafael Marquez is returning to Camp Nou

The 43-year-old Mexican former-professional-footballer-turned-coach will replace Sergi Barjuan as coach of Barcelona‘s second team, Barca Atletic, according to ESPN.

Rafael Marquez, Barca has announced that Barjuan would not remain in the role after missing out on promotion into the second-tier of Spanish football last season.

Marquez, as first reported by Relevo, will take over, with “just the contract left to be signed” before an official announcement, according to ESPN’s sources.

Marquez was one of the first signings of Joan Laporta‘s first spell as Barca president in 2003 and went on to win two Champions Leagues with the club.

Laporta and Marquez have maintained a good relationship ever since and the Barca chief first attempted to bring him back to Camp Nou last summer.

He had been earmarked to take over the Under-19 team, but a deal fell through at the last minute due to his presence on a list in the United States linking him to drug trafficking.

The sanctions imposed by the U.S. Treasury Department could have had a knock-on effect for Barca in terms of their commercial activity in the United States.

However, Marquez, who always maintained his innocence, was removed from the list last September, finally teeing up his return to Barca.

It will be his second coaching job in Spain following a fleeting spell working as the manager of Alcala de Madrid‘s U16 side.

Barca Atletic play in the third tier of Spanish football and act as the bridge between the youth academy and the first team.

GaviNico Gonzalez and Ronald Araujo are among the players who have recently made the jump from the second team to the Xavi Hernandez‘s first-team squad.

Manchester City Agrees to Transfer Gabriel Jesus to Arsenal

Gabriel Jesus is switching sides…

Manchester City and Arsenal have agreed terms over the transfer of the 25-year-old Brazilian professional footballer, according to ESPN.

Gabriel JesusArsenal will pay £45 million plus a further £10m in add-ons for the Brazil international striker with only paperwork and a medical standing in the way of a deal being completed.

The Gunners had already agreed a five-year contract with Jesus.

Arsenal, who have already signed midfielder Fabio Vieira from Porto this summer, are looking to strengthen their squad after missing out on Champions League football.

Jesus, who had only one year remaining on his contract at Man City, scored 13 goals and gave 12 assists in all competitions for the Premier League champions last season and can play in all attacking positions.

He also excels at pressing and counter-pressing, which are key aspects of Mikel Arteta‘s playing style.

Meanwhile, Arsenal continue to pursue a deal for Leeds United winger Raphinha and remain confident of adding him to their ranks.

They are also keen to sign 24-year-old Ajax and Argentina centerback Lisandro Martinez.

Barca Femeni Star Jennifer Hermoso Heading to Mexico’s Pachuca

Jennifer Hermoso is headed to Mexico…

Mexican club Pachuca have completed the signing of the 32-year-old Spanish professional soccer player and the 2021 FIFA’s The Best runner-up on a free transfer as she announced her departure from Barcelona.

Jennifer HermosoHermoso, who is Barca Femeni‘s all-time leading scorer with 174 goals, announced she is making the switch to Pachuca after turning down a contract extension at the Camp Nou.

“To have won everything with this jersey is something that I will take with me forever,” Hermoso said in a message posted to Instagram.

“To play in a sold-out stadium, to celebrate a goal at the Camp Nou and to lift high up our first Champions [League]… Now is time for a new adventure that fills me and that make me feel truly valued.”

Hermoso, who has scored a record 45 goals in 91 appearances for Spain, has been ruled out for Euro 2022 after sustaining ligament damage in her right knee and is expected to miss the start of the Liga MX Femenil season, which kicks off on July 12.

Hermoso has won seven league titles during her 18-year career, including five at Barca, who she initially played for between 2013 to 2017 and rejoined in 2019 from Atletico Madrid.

Hermoso was also a crucial part of Barca Femeni’s first European title when they won the Women’s Champions League in 2021.

She has also had spells at Paris Saint-Germain, Rayo Vallecano and Tyreso FF.

Barcelona Femeni Signs Geyse Ferreira in Free Transfer from Madrid CFF

Geyse Ferreira is headed to Barcelona…

Barcelona Femeni has completed the signing of the 24-year-old Brazilian forward on a free transfer from Madrid CFF, the Catalan club has confirmed.

Geyse FerreiraGeyse joins on a two-year deal with her contact with Madrid expiring at the end of June.

Along with Barca striker Asisat Oshoala, she was the top scorer in the Primera Division, netting 20 times in a team that finished 13th in the table.

She becomes Barca’s third signing of the summer following the arrivals of England international Lucy Bronze on a free transfer from Manchester City and Real Sociedad left-back Nuria Rabano. Geyse further strengthens Barca’s attack following the loss of Dutch winger Lieke Martens, who joined Paris Saint-Germain this week after running down her contract at Camp Nou.

The Brazil International first joined Madrid in 2017 from Corinthians in her home country. She left the club for Benfica in 2018 but returned in 2020.

She now joins a Barca side that has won the Spanish league in each of the last three seasons and reached the last two Champions League finals.

They won 45 out of 47 games last season, including all 30 in the league, but a defeat to Lyon in the European Cup final left a bittersweet feeling at the end of the campaign.

Liverpool Agrees on Transfer Deal for Benfica Forward Darwin Nunez 

It’s official… Darwin Nunez is Liverpool bound.

Liverpool has agreed on a deal to sign the 22-year-old Uruguayan professional footballer and Benfica forward in a transfer worth up to €100 million, according to ESPN.

Darwin NunezIt was previously reported that both clubs were in advanced talks over a deal, and sources confirmed that Liverpool is set to break the team’s transfer record to sign the striker.

Nunez will sign a five-year contract at Anfield, according to sources, and he has left the Uruguay national team to travel to England to undergo a medical.

Sources have told ESPN that an agreement was reached on Saturday between the two clubs worth €75 million, plus €25 million in add-ons.

Liverpool have seen off competition from Manchester United and Arsenal to land the striker.

According to ESPN sources, Nunez is keen for regular Champions League football, which put Liverpool ahead in the race to sign him.

Nunez, who joined Benfica in September 2020, was the top scorer in Portugal’s top flight last season and added some stellar performances in the Champions League, ending the year with 34 goals in 41 appearances.

The striker began his career at Uruguayan side Penarol before moving to Spanish second-division side Almeria in 2019, where he scored 16 goals in 32 games. Almeria will receive 20% of the profit from Nunez’s transfer.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp praised Nunez after his team’s Champions League quarterfinal clash against Benfica in April, saying that Nunez is “really good and has a big career ahead of him.”

Liverpool FC In Talks to Sign Darwin Nunez from SL Benfica

Darwin Nunez could be heading to England soon…

Liverpool F.C. is in talks with S.L. Benfica  over the signing of the 22-year-old Uruguayan professional footballer, according to ESPN.

Darwin NunezNunez is set to break Liverpool’s transfer record, with the deal expected to be worth around €80 million plus €20m in add-ons. The agreement between the clubs has yet to be completed, but talks are progressing well.

Benfica were initially only willing to negotiate Nunez’s departure for around €130m.

The Uruguay forward, who joined Benfica from Almeria in the summer of 2020 for €24m, is under contract through June 2025 and has a €150m release clause.

Almeria will receive 20% of any profit from Nunez’s transfer.

Nunez attracted the attention of top European clubs after an impressive 2021-22 season in which he scored 34 goals in 41 appearances for Benfica.

Nunez was the top scorer in Portugal’s top flight this past season with 26 goals.

Manchester United and Arsenal had also shown an interest in Nunez, while Premier League champions Manchester City considered signing him if they failed to acquire Erling Haaland.

City signed Haaland from Borussia Dortmund last month for an undisclosed fee.

Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp had praised Nunez after his team’s Champions League quarterfinal encounter against Benfica, saying that Nunez is “really good and has a big career ahead of him.”

Nunez, who is on international duty with Uruguay, has remained tight-lipped about his future, but chose his strike at Liverpool on April 13 as the best goal of his career.

Camila Cabello Embraces Latin Roots in Champions League Final Opening Performance

Camila Cabello has embraced her Latin roots at the Champions League final…

The 25-year-old Mexican & Cuban singer gave futbol fans something to remember at the opening of the 2022 UEFA Champions League final on Saturday, May 28.

Camila CabelloPrior to the face-off between Liverpool and Real Madrid, Cabello delivered a colorful spectacle for thousands of fans at Stade de France in Paris.

The carnival-themed celebration, which Cabello paid homage to Cabello’s Latin heritage, featured a medley of “Senorita,” “Havana,” “Bam Bam” and “Don’t Go Yet.”

In a recent interview with Billboard, Cabello discussed weaving elements of her Latin culture into her new music and into every aspect of her life.

“My music, I always feel celebrates my heritage and my Cuban-Mexican heritage, so there’s going to be songs from Familia on there,” the singer said of the performance.

The performance was a natural fit for Cabello, who grew up watching the World Cup with her family every four years. “Out of every sport, it’s the only one I really understand and the one that gets me the most hyped,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to see a soccer game in person.”

Cabello has always been openly proud of her Latin culture, and on her recent studio album, Familia, that connection is deeply celebrated through vibrant instrumentals and a number of Spanish-language songs including “Celia,” “Hasta Los Dientes” featuring Maria Becerra and verses in “Lola” featuring Yotuel.

The UEFA Champions League final opening ceremony, presented by Pepsi, aired in more 200 countries and territories worldwide.

Marcelo Leaving Real Madrid with Record-Breaking 25th Trophy at the Club

Marcelo is leaving Real Madrid with a special record… 

The 34-year-old Brazilian professional footballer, who confirmed he’ll leave Real Madrid this summer, has won a record-breaking 25th trophy at the club in their 1-0 Champions League final victory over Liverpool.

MarceloThe veteran defender was an unused substitute in Madrid’s win in Paris but lifted the trophy — his fifth Champions League hardware after having been involved in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018 — as club captain.

Marcelo had said earlier this week that he wanted to stay at the Bernabeu with his contract due to expire next month, but said after the game that he would be leaving Madrid after 15 years.

“It’s an incredible emotion because it’s my last game at Real Madrid,” he told journalists in the mixed zone at the Stade de France. “Leaving with a Champions League is a huge joy. It isn’t a sad day.”

The left-back became the most decorated player in Real Madrid’s history when he overtook legendary winger Paco Gento‘s 23 trophies as the club won LaLiga last month.

His trophy haul now stands at five Champions Leagues, four Club World Cups, three European Super Cups, six league titles, two Copas del Reys and five Spanish Supercopas.

Marcelo had been widely expected to move on this summer — having lost his first-team place to Ferland Mendy in recent seasons — but said in the aftermath of Madrid’s league title celebrations that he wanted to continue.

“You talk about things,” he said on Saturday. “We’ve spoken and we’ve decided it’s best like that. I’ve already done everything I had to do at Madrid. I’ve been lucky to be here for 15 and a half years at the best club in the world.”

Marcelo joined Real Madrid from Fluminense in January 2007. He has been linked with a return to Brazil, although his family is settled in the Spanish capital, with son Enzo starring this season for Madrid’s under-13 team.

Camila Cabello to Perform at UEFA Champions League Opening Ceremony

Camila Cabello is in a (Champions) League of her own…

The 25-year-old Mexican and Cuban singer is set to headline the Opening Ceremony of the 2022 UEFA Champions League final.

Camila CabelloCabello announced the news with a colorful video in which she sings her 2017 smash “Havana” in a colorful, blossoming AI universe. In it, she struts across a stage before spinning around as her blue dress transforms into a flowing pink gown, and she transitions into her recent single “Bam Bam” as a virtual version of the champion’s cup floats high above her.

“I’m excited to announce that I’ll be performing at the UEFA @championsleague Final Opening Ceremony presented by @pepsiglobal #PepsiShow. I’ve got lots of surprises in store for you,” Cabello wrote in a message to fans. The showdown between Liverpool and Real Madrid will take place at Stade de France on May 28.

Marshmello headlined last year’s opening ceremony with a mind-bending six-minute virtual performance that was two years in the making.

On May 5, Cabello was honored at Variety’s Power of Women event for her work with the Movement Voter Fund to launch the Healing Justice Project, and used her time on the floor to discuss the Supreme Court’s leaked draft opinion that experts suspect could lead to an overturning of the seminal 1973 Roe v. Wade case that has guaranteed women the right to an abortion.

“It’s atrocious,” the 25-year-old singer said during her speech in which she also encouraged people to get involved by voting on the local level and donating to relevant causes. “Obviously it’s going to affect poor women the most, because women that have resources — even like me — will be able to handle things if if they’re needed. The idea of having one moment transform the course of a woman’s life is tragic. And it’s tragic [that] the people affected are not having a say.”

Jordi Alba’s Stoppage-Time Goal Helps Barcelona Secure Qualification for Champions League Football Next Season

Jordi Alba will be getting a hero’s welcome…

A stunning goal from the 33-year-old Spanish professional footballer deep into injury time gave FC Barcelona a 2-1 victory at Real Betis to secure qualification for the Champions League next season.

Jordi Alba, BarcelonaAlba’s unstoppable volley at the back post means Barca now has an unassailable 11-point lead over fifth-placed Betis with three games of the LaLiga season remaining.

Earlier, Barcelona had taken the lead with a first goal since January for Ansu Fati in the 76th minute. But Barca were pegged back almost immediately when former Camp Nou defender Marc Bartra headed home a corner just three minutes later.

Alba’s late goal means Xavi Hernandez has achieved his main aim after taking over midseason. It also gives Barcelona a healthy five-point cushion in second place, although third-placed Sevilla have played a game fewer.

“It’s a weight off our shoulders,” Xavi said afterward. “It could have been an even tougher season but the team has competed well since we arrived in November.

“We have not always played excellently, but we have a winning spirit and we are competitive. We’ve been all the other top half teams in the second half of the season. It’s clear we have to pay better. We have to analyze things. But the effort has been huge since November. We’re in the Champions League, a competition we deserve to be in, now we want to finish second.”

Betis forward Juanmi had the first sight of goal in an entertaining match, but his effort could only find the side-netting in the seventh minute.

Ten minutes later Manuel Pellegrini‘s side lost goalkeeper Claudio Bravo to injury as he hurt himself stretching to reach for the ball and was replaced by Rui Silva.

The Portuguese substitute, however, produced an excellent display, starting with a superb save from Ronald Araujo‘s bullet header minutes after entering the pitch.

Betis created more opportunities in a lively first half, but substitute Fati put the visitors ahead after the break with a low shot towards the left corner in the 76th minute.

“Ansu has a gift, others find it more difficult,” Xavi said. “It’s a great feeling to have him back. The goal was something we had talked about this week regarding the Betis defensive line.

“He’s a difference-maker. He just needs half a chance to score, even with a bad shot. He told me best to play him wide. I told him he could change with Auba, but he wanted to be on the left. He’s always a danger coming inside. He gets two chances, scores one and the other is dangerous. He has a gift. He’s comfortable around the box.”

Despite Bartra leveling for the Copa del Rey champions with a header, Alba sealed the game in the dying minutes.

Barcelona, who have won 10 of their last 12 league matches, are close to wrapping up second place and snatching the 3.4 million euros that the club would make by going to the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia.

Both Copa del Rey finalists — winners Betis and runners-up Valencia — will be joined in the 2023 Spanish Super Cup finals by top two teams in the LaLiga standings.

Betis, meanwhile, missed an opportunity to move level on points with fourth-placed Atletico in their bid to secure a spot in Champions League next season, as they remain fifth with 58 points.

Before the match, Barcelona gave a guard of honor to the Betis players for their cup victory last month.