Manchester City Reportedly Closing Deal for Julian Alvarez

Julian Alvarez is thisclose to heading to Manchester City

ManCity is close to sealing a deal for the 21-year-old Argentine professional footballer and River Plate forward, according to ESPN sources.

Julian AlvarezCity believe they have seen off competition from AC Milan for Alvarez with the final details to be ironed out before an agreement is reached. Sources have told ESPN the overall cost of the transfer could be less than £20 million.

It;s likely that Alvarez, who has already been capped five times by Argentina, won’t move to the Etihad Stadium until next summer at the earliest but sources have told ESPN he would be considered a first-team signing.

Until he is ready to move to England, City will consider loaning him back to River Plate or arranging another loan elsewhere.

Asked about Alvarez following the 1-1 draw with Southampton on Saturday, Pep Guardiola remained tight-lipped.

“I don’t have any information from the club, anything,” he said.

“Not one word. I don’t know anything. I don’t have any information about the club.”

Alvarez is considered to be one of the best young players in South America and should City get a deal over the line, it would be a coup of the Premier League champions following interest from Milan, Barcelona and Real Madrid.

City remain open to the idea that he could be part of Guardiola’s senior squad next season but sources have told ESPN his arrival would not change their plans to sign an established striker in the summer.

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.

Brazil’s Palmeiras Offers Nearly $12.5 Million for NYCFC Star Valentin “Taty” Castellanos

Could Valentin “Taty” Castellanos play in Brazil soon?

Brazilian Serie A side Palmeiras has made an offer of around $12.5 million for the 23-year-old Argentine professional footballer and New York City FC striker, according to ESPN sources.

Valentin "Taty" CastellanosThe offer was made in the days following the NYCFC‘s MLS Cup final victory over the Portland Timbers, a match in which Castellanos scored in regulation time as well as in the penalty shootout, but the sources have added that the amount doesn’t yet meet the Blues’ valuation for the player — NYCFC are seeking in excess of $15m.

In 35 league and playoff appearances this season, Castellanos scored 22 goals and added eight assists while winning the Golden Boot. In parts of four seasons with NYCFC, he scored 40 goals with 18 assists in 99 league and playoff appearances.

In a recent interview with ESPN, Castellanos revealed that he dreams of playing in Argentina, but made it clear that he’s focused on a move to Europe, where he said he already has offers.

“Obviously, it’s a desire I have, because I’ve never played in Argentina,” he said via a translation. “But I don’t think the time is right now. I want to aim for European football. It’s reality, it’s my dream, I always wanted to [play] there. That’s my focus. Today I have many offers from Europe.”

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola recently praised Castellanos and said that the top scorer will soon be playing in Europe. Like Man City, New York City FC is part of the City Football Group.

This isn’t the first time that Palmeiras has pursued the Argentine. Last May, Palmeiras made an offer of $4m for 70% of the economic rights of the player. However, the American club, which at first had liked the proposal, withdrew from negotiations. NYCFC subsequently signed Castellanos to a new five-year contract through 2025. According to data from the MLS Players Association, Castellanos’ guaranteed compensation in 2021 was $776,000.

A native of Mendoza, Argentina, Castellanos originally joined NYCFC on loan in 2018 from Uruguayan side Montevideo City Torque, another City Football Group club. The Blues activated an option to purchase Castellanos after a successful loan stint, which included a goal in his debut against Vancouver Whitecaps.

Alexia Putellas Becomes First Spanish Ballon d’Or Winner Since 1960

Alexia Putellas has earned her place in Spanish sports history…

The 27-year-old Spanish footballer and Barcelona midfielder has become the first Spain international to win the Ballon d’Or since 1960 after leading her club to the Treble this year.

Alexia Putellas Putellas was named the best women’s player in the world on Monday as she received the Ballon d’Or Feminin.

Putellas, who was also named UEFA Women’s Player of the Year in August, is the first Spanish winner since Luis Suarez in 1960.

“Honestly, it is a bit emotional. Very special. It is great to be here with all my teammates. We’ve lived and experienced so much together, especially last season,” she said.

“I would like to thank all my teammates, all my teammates throughout my career and the ones I have right now. This is an individual prize but football is a team sport.

“I’d also like to thank the club of course. It is a real privilege to be here representing Barcelona.”

Barca teammate Jennifer Hermoso came in second place while Chelsea‘s Sam Kerr was voted third.

After a record-breaking year, Barca had an unmatched five players among the 20 finalists, with Hermoso, Lieke Martens, Sandra Panos and Irene Paredes also nominated for the award.

However, Putellas was deemed the outstanding player of a side, which won the Primera Division, the Copa de la Reina and the Champions League for the first time ever, beating Chelsea 4-0 in the final.

The midfielder becomes just the third woman to win the Ballon d’Or after Ada Hegerberg, the inaugural winner in 2018, and Megan Rapinoe, who won it in 2019. There was no award in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Putellas, 27, scored 26 goals last season as Barca clinched the Treble and she has continued her fine form into the current campaign, netting 14 goals in 13 appearances.

After spending one year at Barca’s youth academy when she was younger, Putellas spent her formative years at Espanyol, breaking into the first team at 16 before signing for Levante at 17.

In 2012, aged 18, she returned to Barca. Over the last decade, she has seen the team turn professional and played a key role as they have transformed into the best team in Europe.

She had made close to 400 appearances for the club and, after the departure of Vicky Losada to Manchester City in the summer, was recently named as the new first-team captain.

2021 Ballon d’Or Feminin rankings

  1. Alexia Putellas
    2. Jennifer Hermoso
    3. Sam Kerr
    4. Vivianne Miedema
    5. Lieke Martens
    6. Christine Sinclair
    7. Pernille Harder
    8. Ashley Lawrence
    9. Jessie Fleming
    10. Fran Kirby
    11. Magda Eriksson
    12. Christiane Endler
    13. Stina Blackstenius
    14. Sam Mewis
    15. Irene Paredes
    16. Ellen White
    17. Kadidiatou Diani
    18. Marie-Antoinette Katoto
    19. Sandra Panos
    20. Wendie Renard

Lionel Messi Scores First Ligue 1 Goal in Paris Saint-Germain Win

Lionel Messi has kicked his way into the Ligue 1 books…

The 34-year-old Argentine professional footballer scored his first goal in the league as Paris Saint-Germain opened a 13-point lead at the top of the table despite playing almost half an hour with 10 men in a 3-1 home win against Nantes on Saturday.

Lionel Messi

Messi found the back of the net with a curled left-footed effort from outside the box three minutes from time, adding to Dennis Appiah‘s own goal after Randal Kolo Muani had cancelled out Kylian Mbappe‘s first-half opener.

The result left PSG with 37 points from 14 games ahead of a Champions League trip to Manchester City on Wednesday, while Nantes are 11th on 18 points.

Messi has scored three goals in the Champions League since joining from Barcelona during the close season but the Argentine forward had not found the back of the net for PSG in his five previous appearances in Ligue 1.

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.

Vicky Losada Joins Manchester City on Two-Year Deal

Vicky Losada is heading to the City

The 30-year-old Spanish football midfielder and former Barcelona captain has joined Manchester City on a two-year deal, the club has announced.

Vicky Losada

Losada announced in June that she’d leave the Catalan club after 16 years, calling it “the most difficult decision” of her life.

She led Barca to a treble-winning season this year after securing the Primera Iberdrola, the Champions League and the Copa de la Reina.

“It was very hard to me because I’ve been playing for Barca since I was 14 years old. Sometimes you feel like you need a change and close a chapter in my life and when the offer came from England it made things easier for me and also winning the Champions League definitely brought me the security to make the decision,” Losada told ESPN about her decision to move to City.

“I want to be very honest to you, new girls from La Masia came up to the team. They were bringing a very good level and I wanted to get more minutes and it wasn’t happening but I was also so happy at the same time that I was always helping the team.

“I just wanted to be more important and basically happier when I wake up and I have to go to the training ground. So that was changing a little bit so I had my thoughts every night with myself and in the end it was the perfect end to a year that was unforgettable to me.”

Losada came through Barca’s academy system La Masia and spent the majority of her playing career at the club.

However, she did spend a year-and-a-half with Arsenal in the Women’s Super League where she won the league cup and the FA Cup.

She said this time with Arsenal made her eager for a return to the WSL, despite her love for her home side in Spain.

“I said all the time I was missing the English league. All these years, I came back to Barcelona because it was home for me but I am so happy to be coming back to England. It’s true that the weather never got used to that but I think I’ll be able to handle it,” she added.

“I think it is a very competitive league and they have very good players. Every year the best players in the world not just English or British players want to go to the WSL and also I think the structure, I can see it from here. We’re missing a lot of things in the Spanish league — visibility, TV, fans. I really think they’re doing a massive job and they’re looking after women’s football.”

Losada leaves Barca with six league titles, one Champions League title, seven Copa de la Reina titles, one Supercopa Femenina title and eight Copa Catalunya titles.

Sergio Ramos to Undergo Medical Ahead of Joining Paris Saint-Germain as Free Agent

It’s twilight in Paris for Sergio Ramos

The 35-year-old Spanish professional footballer will undergo a medical in Paris on Tuesday ahead of joining Paris Saint-Germain as a free agent, according to ESPN.

Sergio Ramos

Sources added that Ramos, a veteran defender, agreed to join the Ligue 1 giants on a two-year deal.

Ramos announced last month that he’d leave Real Madrid after failing to reach an agreement to extend his 16-year stay in the Spanish capital.

Manchester City and Bayern Munich had shown an interest in acquiring the Spain international, but the experienced centerback preferred PSG‘s project.

Ramos didn’t strike an agreement with Madrid due to discrepancies over the length of the deal. Los Blancos were only willing to offer one year and by the time Ramos agreed to accept the club’s proposal he was told the deadline had expired.

Ramos had wanted a two-year deal. His wages at PSG are set to be lower than what he was earning in Spain and what he would have earned had he stayed at the Bernabeu.

Ramos will land in Paris just hours after the arrival of his former Real Madrid teammate Achraf Hakimi. Hakimi, 22, is expected to join PSG on a €70m transfer from Inter Milan, sources have told ESPN.

The Morocco international posted a message on Twitter on Monday hinting that he was on his way to the French capital.

Pep Guardiola Named Premier League Manager of the Season

Pep Guardiola is celebrating a premier honor…

This year’s Premier League awards have been doled out, with the 50-year-old Spanish professional football manager for Manchester City and former player taking home a trophy.

Pep Guardiola

Guardiola was named Manager of the Season for the 2020-21 period.

He previously won the manager’s award in 2017-18 and again in 2018-19 when he led Man City to consecutive league titles.

Under him, City conceded the fewest goals (32) this season and kept clean sheets in half of their games (19) to finish 12 points clear of second-placed Manchester United.

Guardiola won the award ahead of fellow nominees Marcelo Bielsa (Leeds United), David Moyes (West Ham United), Brendan Rodgers (Leicester City) and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Manchester United).

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.