Sergio Aguero Finalizing Deal with FC Barcelona

Sergio Aguero could be switching sides very soon…

FC Barcelona is finalizing the signing of the 32-year-old Argentine professional footballer on a free transfer this summer, according to ESPN.

Sergio Aguero

Barca have offered Aguero a two-year contract and sources say the Argentina international could arrive to the Camp Nou after the Champions League final between Manchester City and Chelsea on May 29.

Aguero, who will turn 33 next month, has agreed to considerably reduce his wages and will join as a free agent once his contract with Manchester City expires on June 30.

Barca have been looking for a No. 9 since Luis Suarez‘s departure to Atletico Madrid last summer.

Club president Joan Laporta sees Aguero’s potential arrival as a great opportunity for Barca because of the former Atletico star’s experience and that no transfer fee is required.

Barca came close to signing Aguero in 2014 but decided instead to acquire Suarez.

Aguero has other important offers on the table, and his willingness to lower his wages to arrive to the Camp Nou is valued by the club, according to a source.

Barca are convinced that in the short term, Aguero will outperform Martin Braithwaite, who has scored seven goals this season. The Denmark international is expected to be placed on the transfer list this summer.

Barca also believe that Aguero’s signing would help persuade his friend and Argentina teammate Lionel Messi to renew his contract.

Messi, whose contract expires next month, has yet to sign a new deal with Barca.

Joan Laporta Elected New President of FC Barcelona

Joan Laporta is returning to Camp Nou

The 58-year-old Spanish lawyer has been elected the new president of FC Barcelona, returning to the post he previously held from 2003 to 2010.

Joan Laporta

Barca members voted Laporta into power on Sunday ahead of rival candidates Victor Font and Toni Freixa. The club called the election on Sunday night, with Laporta winning with 30,184 votes and Font coming in second and Freixa third with 16,679 and 4,769 votes, respectively.

Barca said 51,765 out of 109,531 eligible members had voted in the election, which was postponed from January due to coronavirus restrictions in Catalonia.

Among those to vote were first-team players Lionel MessiSergio Busquets and Jordi Alba, as well as the club’s former coach and current Spain boss Luis Enrique.

“I want to thank all the members for coming out to vote what has been the most important election in the club’s history due to [the effects of] the coronavirus pandemic, which has changed our lives,” Laporta said in a brief speech.

“I want to thank the members that have supported our campaign. This has been a celebration of democracy and of Barcelona. I also want to pay special thanks to Johan Cruyff, who’s no longer with us. I am sure he’s helped us.

“Barcelona is a huge family, and we will overcome the difficulties together. We will achieve the objectives that we have set out.”

Laporta takes over at a critical moment in the club’s history. Gross debt has risen to €1.2 billion during the coronavirus pandemic, with players forced to accept pay cuts, and star player Messi is out of contract in June and will walk away for free if new terms cannot be agreed upon.

Laporta said the fact that Messi voted on Sunday was “significant.”

“Today, 20 years ago, Messi made his debut for Barca’s youth teams,” he added. “To see the best player in the world, the player in the history of football, coming to vote, is a sign of what we have said throughout the campaign: that Messi loves Barca.

“The best player in the world loves Barca, and that is very significant. We’re going to encourage him to continue with the club, which is what we all want.”

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.

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.

Lionel Messi: The World’s Highest-Paid Latino on Forbes’ The Celebrity 100 List

Lionel Messi is kickin’ his way to the top of the earnings charts…

The 33-year-old Argentine soccer star, who plays for FC Barcelona, is the top-earning Latinx celebrity on Forbes’ recently released The Celebrity 100 list, which ranks the world’s highest-paid celebrities of 2020.

Lionel Messi

Messi, who has been awarded both FIFA’s Ballon d’Or and the European Golden Shoe for top scorer on the continent a record six times, comes in at No. 5 with earning of $104 million.

His current contract with Barcelona is through 2020-21 and pays him more than $80 million annually. He also has a lifelong deal with Adidas, and he launched his own clothing line and opened his first retail outlet, The Messi Store, in September 2019 in Barcelona.

The World Health Organization (WHO) tapped Messi in March 2020 to help lead a worldwide campaign aimed at stopping the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nipping on Messi’s heels is another soccer star and his former teammate… Neymar.

The 28-year-old Brazilian soccer player comes in at No. 7 on the list with earning of $95.5 million.

Neymar is currently on a five-year contract with Paris Saint-Germain through June 2022 worth $350 million in salary.

His transfer from Barcelona to PSG stands as the most expensive in the world at $263 million, which the French club paid in full ahead of his signing.

He’s the second most popular athlete on social media with a combined 244 million followers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Nike‘s Jordan Brand signed Neymar as its first soccer ambassador in 2016. In March 2020 its film unit released a movie about his life.

Jennifer Lopez is this year’s highest-paid Latina on the list.

The 51-year-old Puerto Rican superstar comes in at No. 56 on the list with earnings of $47.5 million.

One of the more popular celebrities when it comes to endorsements, J.Lo has deals with Versace, DSW, Quay sunglasses and her own fragrance.

In 2018, she played her final shows at Las Vegas’ Zappos Theater, grossing more than $100 million in two years–the top Vegas residency by a Latin artist. She tacked on another $55 million in 2019 ticket sales for her ensuing world tour, which included stops in Egypt, Israel and Russia.

Lin-Manuel Miranda makes his first appearance on The Celebrity 100.

The 40-year-old Puerto Rican actor/rapper/lyricist/composer and Broadway star, the creator of the hit musical Hamilton, comes in at No. 62 with earning of $45.5 million.

Disney acquired worldwide rights to the film version of Hamilton in February 2020 for $75 million. And he helped create a $1 million emergency relief fund to benefit artists impacted by COVID-19 in Puerto Rico.

Other Latinx celebrities making the list include Howie Dorough (as a member of Backstreet Boys); Sofia Vergara, the world’s highest-paid actress; Robert Trujillo (as a member of Metallica); tennis star Rafael Nadal; and Mexican boxer Canelo Alvarez.

Forbes’ list ranks “front of the camera” stars around the globe using pretax earnings from June 2019 through May 2020 before deducting fees for managers, lawyers and agents. Figures are based on information from Nielsen Music/MRC Data, Pollstar, IMDB, NPD BookScan and ComScore as well as interviews with industry experts and many of the stars themselves.

In total, the 100 celebrities racked in a total of $6.1 billion in pretax earnings, which took a $200 million dip from last year after the pandemic halted — or rather redirected — lots of business models.

Here’s a look at the Latino/a celebrities who made the list this year:

No. 5 Lionel Messi, 33, Argentina, Soccer, $104 million

No. 7 Neymar, 28, Brazil, Soccer, $95.5 million
No. 56 Jennifer Lopez, 51, USA (Puerto Rican), Entertainment, $47.5 million

No. 62 Lin-Manuel Miranda, 40, USA (Puerto Rican), Entertainment, $45.5 million
No. 64 Howie Dorough (Backstreet Boys), 47, USA (Half-Puerto Rican), Music, $45 million
No. 71 Sofia Vergara, 48, Colombia, Entertainment, $43 million

No. 78 Robert Trujillo (Metallica), 55, USA (Half-Mexican)Music, $40.5 million
No. 80 Rafael Nadal, 34, Spain, Tennis, $40 million
No. 91 Canelo Alvarez, 30, Mexico, Boxing, $37 million

Click here for the complete list.

Rafa Marquez Begins Coaching Career at Spain’s Real Sociedad Deportiva Alcala

Rafa Marquez is grooming the next generation of soccer stars…

The 41-year-old Mexican former professional footballer, regarded as the best defender in Mexico’s history and one of the best Mexican players of all time, has begun his coaching career training youth at Spanish fourth division side Real Sociedad Deportiva Alcala.

Rafa Marquez

Marquez, who’s nickname is El Káiser, retired in July 2018 after playing in his fifth World Cup and had a nine-month stint as Atlas‘ sporting president after that, but has now moved into the world of coaching.

“It’s a nice opportunity that I’m very grateful for,” said Marquez in quotes announced on the club’s website. “I’ve had a very warm welcome at the project, to which I feel very committed and to which I come in good spirits to help and offer all my experience as a player and now as a coach.”

Marquez, who holds a Spanish passport after his time with Barcelona, is currently studying in for his UEFA Pro license with the Spanish Football Federation as he transitions into being a head coach.

“The young players at Alcala will have the fortune to learn from a player who, after shining for his national team at the Copa America in Paraguay in 1999, left Atlas for European football, where he carried out practically all his successful sporting career,” read the club’s statement.

Marquez left Atlas last May after the club was bought out by Grupo Orlegi and became a fierce critic of the way the Mexican game is being run, slamming the suspension of promotion and relegation: between the top two divisions.

“Instead of moving forward each day, we are going backwards with these decisions and when it is run like this, with team owners’ interests [take priority], we won’t achieve anything on the sporting side,” he told ESPN in April.

Barcelona to Exercise Option to Sign Gustavo Maia

Gustavo Maia is heading to Spain…

FC Barcelona has exercised the option to sign the promising 19-year-old Brazilianstriker, according to ESPN.

Gustavo Maia

Earlier this year, Barcelonaagreed to pay €1 million to secure the first refusal on the Sao Paulo FC striker this summer, the Brazilian club’s director of football Alexandre Passaro confirmed.

Maia is expected to represent Barca B next season, where he’ll look to break into the first team.

Sao Paulo will retain 30% of Maia’s future sale. The operation will allow the Brazilian club to pay some of its debts related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Maia arrived at Sao Paulo at 14 and was tied to the club until 2022. He won seven titles with Sao Paulo’s youth teams and had his best season in 2018 when he scored 30 goals in 36 games.

The suspension of Brazilian football in March due to the pandemic prevented Maia from making his first team debut.

The versatile attacker, who can play on the left or through the middle, has been capped by Brazil at youth level.

His signing, once officially announced, will continue Barca’s aggressive pursuit of the best young talent from all over the world.

Lionel Messi: The World’s Highest Paid Latino Celebrity

Lionel Messi isn’t just making goals… He’s makin’ some serious bank…

Forbes magazine has released its list of the world’s highest-paid celebrities, with the 32-year-old Argentine professional footballer coming in at No. 5 with $104 million, making his the highest-paid Latino celebrity in the world.

Lionel Messi

Messi has been awarded both FIFA‘s Player of the Year and the European Golden Shoe for top scorer on the continent a record six times. His 438 goals, including 36 hat tricks for Barcelona, is a club and La Liga record.

Neymarcomes in at No. 7…

The 28-year-old Brazilian professional footballer, who plays as a forward for Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain and the Brazil national team, had reported earnings of $95.5 million.

Jennifer Lopez is the highest-paid Latina celebrity on Forbes’ list.

The 50-year-old Puerto Rican superstar,one of the more popular celebrities when it comes to endorsements, had earnings of $47.5 million. She has deals with VersaceDSWQuay sunglasses and her own fragrances.

The multi-hyphenate also produced and starred in the 2019 film Hustlers.

Lin-Manuel Miranda has made Forbes’ list for the first time…

The 40-year-old Puerto Rican Broadway star had reported earnings of $45.5 million.

The Hamilton creator and star added to his haul from the Broadway hit in February when Walt Disney paid $75 million for the rights to air the filmed version of his Founding Father musical. 

Other Latino/a celebrities making the list include Howie Dorough (along with his fellow Backstreet Boys), Sofia VergaraRobert Trujillo (along with his fellow Metallica band mates), Rafael Nadal and Canelo Alvarez.

Here’s a look at the Latino/as making this year’s list:

No. 5 Lionel Messi, $104 million
No. 7 Neymar, $95.5 million
No. 56 Jennifer Lopez, $47.5 million 
No. 62 Lin-Manuel Miranda, $45.5 million
No. 64 Backstreet Boys, $45 million
No. 71 Sofia Vergara, $43 million
No. 78 Metallica, $40.5 million
No. 80 Rafael Nadal, $40 million
No. 91 Canelo Alvarez, $37 million