FC Barcelona Completes Signing of Ferran Torres from Manchester City

Ferran Torres is headed home to Spain… 

FC Barcelona has completed the signing of the 21-year-old Spanish professional footballer from Manchester City.

Ferran Torres 

Sources tell ESPN that Barca were nearing a €55 million ($62m) deal for Torres, with the move now completed.

Manchester City director of football Txiki Begiristain said: “Ferran should be proud of what he has achieved here at Manchester City.

“Last season was his first time in a new country, but he adapted well. He always gave 100%, worked hard for the team and scored goals which helped us win trophies.

“Injury unfortunately prevented him from playing more games this season, but Ferran is a player we have all enjoyed working with and we wish him all the best at Barcelona and for the rest of his career.”

Torres has signed a contract at Camp Nou until 2027 with a €1 billion release clause and could make his debut in the Copa del Rey against Linares Deportivo on January 5 — he won’t be registered in time to face Mallorca on January 2 — having recovered from a foot injury that’s kept him out since September.

Barcelona’s financial problems have been well documented, with gross debts of over €1 billion leading to the exits of Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann last summer.

However, club sources told ESPN they don’t envisage any problems inscribing Torres with LaLiga when the registration window opens on January 3.

The club must also register Dani Alves, but the departure of Griezmann at the end of August and Sergio Aguero‘s retirement due to a heart condition have given them some room to maneuver inside their LaLiga-imposed €97m spending limit for the season — the limit includes salaries and money spent on signings, but fees are broken down over the length of the contract.

Barca are permitted by the Spanish league to spend 25% of whatever they save in wages or by bringing in transfer fees.

The club continue to work on making more room and sources add they hope to do so by ending the loans of Yusuf Demir and Luuk de Jong early and are open to offers for several other players.

Penning Ousmane Dembele down to a new contract would also help, as it would spread the amortisation payments for his fee over a longer length of time.

Torres becomes the second Barca signing under head coach Xavi Hernandez, following the arrival of Alves on a free transfer in November.

ESPN reported in November that Barca had stepped up their efforts to sign Torres, a player they have held a long-standing interest in, and Torres informed City boss Pep Guardiola of his desire to leave last week.

When asked about Torres’ imminent exit from the Premier League, Guardiola said he did not want to keep a player who wanted to play elsewhere.

“I want the happiness of my players. I said many times, if you are not happy, you have to leave. We are not a club like other clubs, the guys who want to leave have to leave,” Guardiola said.

Torres scored 16 goals in 43 appearances for City since joining in a €23m ($26m) in August 2020. He has 12 goals in 22 caps for Spain.

Lionel Messi Breaks Pele’s South American Men’s Record for International Career Goals

Lionel Messi continues making history…

The 34-year-old Argentine professional footballer has scored his 79th international career goal for Argentina, surpassing the South American men’s record held by Brazil legend Pele.

Lionel Messi

Messi scored all three goals in Argentina’s 3-0 win over Bolivia on Thursday in a World Cup qualifying match at the Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires, giving him two more than Pele, who had 77 career goals in international play.

Messi trails Brazilian duo Marta (109) and Cristiane (96) for the overall record for most goals scored by any South American player at the international level.

Third on the men’s list is Messi’s Paris Saint-Germain teammate Neymar, who has 69 international goals for Brazil.

“I was very nervous, I just wanted to enjoy the night. I waited a long time for this,” an emotional Messi said after the match. “We won the game [and] that was the most important thing and now we can celebrate.”

Three-time World Cup winner Pele remains in hospital due to surgery for a tumor on his colon on Monday, although the 80-year-old said the operation was a “great victory.”

Messi has had a memorable summer — changing clubs from Barcelona to PSG in August and winning his first senior international football title in July. He and La Albiceleste claimed the Copa America from Brazil in a 1-0 win at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium.

After Thursday’s result, Messi danced with his teammates and showed off the Copa trophy to the 21,000 supporters present.

“It was a unique moment [to win the Copa America] because of where and how we obtained the title,” Messi said.

“There was no better way to do it and be able to celebrate the title now, it’s incredible. My mother, my brothers are here in the stands. They have suffered a lot … I’m very happy.”

Thursday’s game also came days after Argentina’s World Cup qualifying match against Brazil — their first rematch since the Copa final — was controversially suspended. Brazilian health authorities entered the pitch at Sao Paulo’s Corinthians Arena with the game in progress and accused four Argentina players of failing to follow Brazil’s COVID-19 protocols for entering the country.

With 26 goals in World Cup qualifying matches following his hat-trick against Bolivia, Messi also passes Uruguay star Luis Suarez — his former teammate at Barcelona — for most among CONMEBOL players.

With eight career goals vs. Bolivia in 11 games, it is Messi’s most against a single opponent while donning the Argentina shirt.

Messi is also his country’s men’s all-time leading scorer, having moved past Gabriel Batistuta (54 goals) in 2016. He is also Argentina’s most capped player, with Thursday’s match against Bolivia marking his 153rd international appearance.

Prior to the Copa America victory, Messi had lost four major finals with Argentina’s senior side. They were beaten by Germany in the 2014 World Cup final and had lost in the final at the Copa America in 2007, 2015 and 2016.

He had won the under-20 World Cup in 2005 and an Olympic gold medal with Argentina’s U23s in 2008.

Messi joined PSG over the summer on a shock free-agent move after two decades with Barcelona. Messi had been with Barcelona since 2001, joining the academy the year before.

Messi played 778 games at Barcelona, breaking Xavi Hernandez‘s appearance record in the 2020-21 season. In addition, he scored 672 goals, another club record, and helped Barca win, among other trophies, 10 La Liga titles and the Champions League on four occasions.

Lionel Messi Reportedly Agrees to New Five-Year-Deal with FC Barcelona

Not so fast! Lionel Messi may not be going anywhere…

The 34-year-old Argentine superstar footballer and FC Barcelona have reportedly reached an agreement for the forward to sign a new five-year deal with the Catalan club, according to ESPN.

Lionel MessiSources added that Messi has accepted a significant wage reduction to prolong his stay.

Messi was a free agent after his contract at Barca expired, and he had courted interest from Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City since first revealing a desire to end his 20-year relationship with Barca last summer.

Messi’s previous contract, which was worth over €500 million ($594m) over four years, expired at the stroke of midnight on June 30.

However, with the return of Joan Laporta as president in March, Messi grew more open to staying at Camp Nou. An official announcement is expected in the coming days.

Laporta had hoped to finalize an agreement before Messi’s previous terms expired. Barca’s financial problems made that impossible, though, with their gross debt over €1 billion. Cutbacks have been essential, in terms of transferring players out, reducing the wage bill and getting Messi to accept a lower salary.

La Liga president Javier Tebas has warned Barca they will not be allowed to register Messi’s new deal if they are unable to reduce spending to comply with the league’s Financial Fair Play rules. Barca’s spending limit has been reduced from over €600m to €347m since the coronavirus pandemic, with further reductions expected to be imposed for the upcoming season.

Therefore, to register Messi’s new deal, in addition to new signings Sergio Aguero, Memphis Depay, Eric Garcia and Emerson Royal, Barca need to continue reducing the wage bill and moving players on. With that in mind, sources at the club refuse to rule out the departure of Antoine Griezmann, a €120m signing in 2019.

Messi is on holiday with his family after his Copa America glory with Argentina last weekend, which was his first senior trophy with his national team.

He will link up with Ronald Koeman‘s squad later in the summer, with Barca’s league campaign kicking off on August 15 against Real Sociedad at Camp Nou.

Messi had first expressed a desire to leave Barca last August after the 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League. His relationship with then-president Josep Maria Bartomeu had reached a breaking point. In a September 2020 interview with Goal, after Barca had blocked his departure, Messi called Bartomeu a “liar” and said the board had been “making things up as they go along” and “plugging holes” for years.

Bartomeu, facing a vote of no confidence, resigned last October and was eventually replaced by Laporta in March. Laporta has a good relationship with Messi and his family. He was Barca’s president when Messi made his first-team debut and when he signed his first professional contract with the club.

Sources told ESPN in April that Laporta was working on a contract renewal for Messi that included the option of playing in Major League Soccer before returning to Barcelona.

In public and in private, Laporta had always maintained that he was “convinced” he could persuade Messi to stay. The club have already made a series of signings this summer, bringing in Sergio Aguero, Memphis Depay and Eric Garcia, as well as recalling Emerson Royal.

Messi first joined Barca’s academy in 2000 and has gone on to play 778 games for the club, breaking Xavi Hernandez‘s appearance record last season. He has scored 672 goals, another club record, and has helped Barca win, among other trophies, 10 La Liga titles and the Champions League on four occasions.

Rafael Benitez Named New Manager of Everton

Rafael Benitez is taking on a new role…

The 61-year-old Spanish professional football manager and former player, a former Liverpool boss, has been appointed as new manager of Merseyside rivals Everton.

Rafael Benitez

Benitez has put pen to paper on a three-year deal with the Premier League club and replaces Carlo Ancelotti, who made a shock return to Real Madrid on June 1.

Earlier this month, Benitez was in talks to take charge at Goodison Park but faced competition from Roberto Martinez, Eddie Howe and Nuno Espirito Santo for the vacant position, according to ESPN.

“You can see the ambition is there,” Benitez told Everton TV. “This club is growing.

“For me, it is about bringing the winning mentality, being competitive, so everything is in place on the pitch and off the pitch. I love the passion of the people behind the club. I know the city, I know Scousers, I know what it means for every fan here to compete and to have the chance to win.

“To come to Everton is something that means a lot, for sure. You can see the ambition of the owner, of the board, everybody wants to be better and to go to the new stadium with a massive boost. I like to compete. I like to win. I came from the academy at Real Madrid [as a young player and coach], and the winning mentality is already there.

“We [Benitez and the coaching staff] have won 13 titles because we have this mentality and I still want to win. And I have come to Everton because I liked the idea to be competitive again — and to have the chance to compete in every game, to compete against anyone.”

Everton’s majority shareholder, Farhad Moshiri, added: “Rafa impressed us greatly with his knowledge and experience but, above all, the passion and hunger he showed to join our club. We are appointing Rafa because we believe he will bring success to our Club and to Evertonians.

“To put it simply — we need to be competing at the top end of the league and to be winning trophies. Rafa is a proven winner with huge experience in coaching internationally and we have secured the best man to achieve that for us.”

The appointment is a controversial one, as Benitez spent six years at Anfield, winning the Champions LeagueFA Cup and UEFA Super Cup during his spell.

During his time at Liverpool, Benitez described Everton as a “small club,” but he has since claimed that his remarks were misinterpreted.

It is not the first time Benitez’s appointment has caused controversy after he temporarily took charge of Liverpool’s rivals Chelsea in 2012.

The Spaniard has been out of work since leaving Chinese team Dalian Professional in January.

Benitez has an impressive track record of winning trophies during his managerial career after leading Valencia to two La Liga titles and a UEFA Super Cup.

He also won the FIFA Club World Cup with Inter Milan, the Coppa Italia with Napoli and the Europa League at Chelsea. Benitez has also managed Real Madrid and Newcastle United.

Everton will be hopeful Benitez can help the club lift their first major trophy since 1995.

Jose Bordalas Named Head Coach of Valencia CF

It’s bat-ter up time for Jose Bordalas.

The 57-year-old Spanish former-footballer-turned-manager has signed a two-year contract with an optional third, with Valencia CF, known as Los murciélagos, to serve as their new head coach.

Jose Bordalas

The announcement comes just two days after ending a successful five-season spell at Getafe.

Earlier this month Valencia sacked coach Javi Gracia — the 11th coach to leave the club in nine years — and finished 13th in the standings in La Liga under interim coach Voro.

“I’ve come here to work, to try to make Valencia CF a very competitive team, to occupy the place it deserves,” Bordalas said during his unveiling on Thursday.

“I will adapt to the possibilities of the club or the squad. If the club must remove or sell players, it will be out of necessity. We will work to incorporate players who come with enthusiasm, who are competitive. We want Valencia CF to regain its football status in La Liga, that is my goal. We start from scratch. I will put all my knowledge at the service of Valencia CF and I want to get the fans excited again.”

Valencia club owner Peter Lim has been at the centre of criticism over his management. Lim acquired then debt-ridden Valencia in 2014 but has not been a popular figure, with the club having regularly been forced to sell top players to reduce the outfit’s high debts and made no signings to strengthen the squad.

There have been calls for Lim, who is rarely in Valencia, to move aside and sell the club.

Bordalas had been in charge of Getafe since September 2016, leading the team back to La Liga in his first season before recording back-to-back top-10 finishes.

Getafe avoided relegation in the past two campaigns and finished two places behind Valencia this season. The Madrid outfit has appointed former coach Michel as the new head coach, who managed the team between 2009 and 2011 and guided it into the Europa League.

A former Real Madrid star, Michel has not coached since resigning for personal reasons as manager of Mexican side Pumas in the summer of 2020 after one year in charge.

 

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.

https://twitter.com/BlackYellow/status/1329755248106344449

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.