Ernesto Valverde One Step Closer to Return to Coaching Roster at Athletic Bilbao

Ernesto Valverde could be making a big return…

The 58-year-old Spanish football manager and former player appears set to return to coaching at Athletic Bilbao after a candidate who pledged to sign him won the election for the presidency of the Spanish club on Friday.

Ernesto Valverde Jon Uriarte won a four-year term after he beat two other candidates with 46% of the 22,000 votes cast by members.

One of Uriarte’s campaign pledges was to bring back Valverde for a third stint as Bilbao’s coach.

Valverde has not spoken publicly on the chance to come back to the club that fields only players from the northern Basque Country region bordering with France and surrounding areas.

Another candidate for Bilbao’s presidency, Inaki Arechabaleta, promised to bring back Argentine Marcelo Bielsa for a second stint as coach.

Valverde has not coached since he was fired from FC Barcelona in January 2020. Barcelona let him go despite having won back-to-back Spanish league titles and the Copa del Rey under Valverde and with his team still leading the league.

Valverde, a former player, coached Bilbao to a club record 306 games in 2003-05 and 2013-17. He has also coached ValenciaOlympiakos, Villarreal and Espanyol.

Bilbao is, along with Real Madrid, Barcelona and Osasuna, the last Spanish clubs owned by club members, not shareholders. The club members elect presidents and board members to run the club. Candidates must have been a club member for at least one year to run.

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.”

Ronald Araujo Agrees to New Contract with FC Barcelona Until 2026

Ronald Araujo is a new Billion Dollar Man

The 23-year-old Uruguayan professional footballer and FC Barcelona defender has agreed a new contract until 2026 with his release clause rising to €1 billion ($1.16bn), the club have announced.

Ronald Araujo Araujo’s previous deal was due to expire in 2023 and ESPN revealed last month that Manchester United and Liverpool were both keen on signing the Uruguay international.

The money on the table from the Premier League sides was higher than Barca‘s offer, but sources have told ESPN that the player’s priority was always to remain at Camp Nou.

Araujo has been on the same terms at Barca since 2018, when he first joined the club’s B team from Boston River in his homeland in a deal worth an initial €2 million.

That made him one of the lowest-paid players in the first team going into the current campaign, with his agents keen for his salary to rise according to his new status at the club.

Under coach Xavi Hernandez he has emerged as a key player this season, making 39 appearances in all competitions and scoring four goals, including one in the 4-0 Clasico win over Real Madrid at the Bernabeu Stadium.

With Barca having to adhere to LaLiga‘s strict financial rules due to their financial problems, they have played hardball during negotiations with Araujo’s camp.

However, sources told ESPN earlier this month there had finally been a breakthrough in talks, with Barca upping their initial offer and Araujo willing to meet the club in the middle despite the offers from English clubs.

Alexia Putellas & Barcelona Teammates Break Attendance Record in Women’s Football

Alexia Putellas and her Barca teammates are celebrating an impressive record.

Barcelona broke the attendance record in women’s football for the second time in a month as 91,648 supporters watched them beat Wolfsburg 5-1 at Camp Nou in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal.

Alexia Putellas & BarcelonaThe previous record crowd for a women’s game had only been set by Barca in March, when 91,553 people attended their quarterfinal against Real Madrid — 95 fewer than attended Friday’s game.

Prior to that, the women’s record had stood since 1999, when 90,185 fans watched the World Cup final between the United States and China at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

“It was spectacular, both today and a month ago against Madrid,” midfielder Patri Guijarro said in a news conference after the game. “We’re speechless, really. I’m sure as the days and years pass, we will become a bit more of what we have achieved. We’re still not completely aware of the magnitude of [the attendances].”

However, some estimates suggest 110,000 people attended Denmark’s win over Mexico at the Azteca Stadium in the 1971 World Cup final, a tournament that was not officially sanctioned.

Barca usually play their home games at the 6,000-seater Estadi Johan Cruyff at the club’s training ground, but their Champions League knockout games have been moved to Camp Nou to accommodate the bigger demand for tickets.

This was just their third competitive game at the 99,000-seater stadium. They played against Espanyol behind closed doors last season due to the pandemic, and then for the first time with fans against Madrid last month.

On the pitch, they were too good for Wolfsburg, blowing them away with four first-half goals from Aitana Bonmati, Caroline Graham Hansen, Jenni Hermoso and Alexia Putellas.

Jill Roord pulled one back for the German side after the break, but Ballon d’Or winner Putellas added her second from the penalty spot to seal Barca’s 45th successive win in all competitions, a run dating back to last June.

The teams will meet again in the second leg at the Volkswagen Arena next Saturday, with the winners facing Lyon or Paris Saint-Germain in the final in Turin on May 21.

Wolfsburg coach Tommy Stroot was pessimistic about his team’s chances of turning things around in the second leg.

“Barca fans can book their tickets for the final,” he said. “They were favourites before the tie and now they’re even bigger favourites.

“Our challenge is to try and win next week without losing touch with reality. Wanting to win 5-1 is difficult, but winning is possible, although we have to change certain things.”

Ronald Araujo Nearing Long-Term Deal with FC Barcelona

Ronald Araujo is thisclose to a new deal…

The 23-year-old Uruguayan professional soccer player and Barcelona defender is close to agreement on a new long-term contract with the Spanish club, according to his agent.

Ronald AraujoAraujo’s current deal is set to expire in 2023; and Manchester United and Liverpool were reportedly keen on signing the Uruguay international.

Barca’s previous offer to Araujo was worth around €5 million annually, with sources saying the money on offer from the Premier League sides was worth almost double.

But, Barca has now upped its proposal, with the player’s agent, Flavio Perchman, revealing an agreement is close after a meeting with sporting director Mateu Alemany.

“It’s close,” Perchman told reporters. “There is a desire on both sides [to finalize the renewal] and Ronald wants to stay at the club.”

Araujo has been on the same deal at Barca since 2018, when he first joined the “B team” from Boston River in his homeland in a deal worth an initial €2m.

That made him one of the lowest-paid players in the first team going into the current campaign, with his agents keen for his salary to rise along with his status at the club.

Under coach Xavi Hernandez he has emerged as a key player this season, making 34 appearances in all competitions and scoring four goals, including in the recent 4-0 Clasico win over Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu.

With Barca having to adhere to LaLiga‘s strict financial rules due to their financial problems, though, they’ve played hardball during negotiations with Araujo’s camp.

At the same time the team has been holding talks with Araujo, Barcelona has also been negotiating the signing of Andreas Christensen and even met with Antonio Rudiger‘s agent last week.

Christensen will join the club from Chelsea on a free transfer in the summer, but a move for Rudiger is less likely.

The public nature of those negotiations forced the club to up their offer to Araujo, who was willing to accept a lower deal to remain with the LaLiga side.

Araujo, Gerard Pique and Eric Garcia have been Barca’s first choice centerbacks under Xavi, with Christensen set to compete with them from the summer onwards.

FC Barcelona Signs Rising Soccer Star Pablo Torre

Pablo Torre is headed to Camp Nou

FC Barcelona has signed 18-year-old Spanish soccer player from Racing Santander, the LaLiga club announced on Friday, beating Real Madrid to land the talented youngster.

Pablo TorreTorre is viewed as a potential future star but will initially feature for the club’s reserve team Barcelona B beginning this summer, before challenging for a first-team place in the medium term.

Barcelona stated the transfer fee was €5m with the amount potentially reaching €20m based on variables.

Torre, an attacking midfielder, is now signed with the Blaugrana through June 2026, with a release clause of €100 million.

A number of top teams including Madrid had been tracking Torre, who has been starring for Racing this season, but Barca moved to wrap up negotiations on Friday.

The Spain Under-19 international has scored six goals in 21 appearances — 18 of them starts — for Racing to help them top their group in the Primera RFEF, the third tier of Spanish football.

Barca have made a habit of prioritizing emerging Spanish talent, signing Pedri from Las Palmas in 2019 and promoting academy youngsters like Gavi and Nico to the first team.

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.

Ronaldo Buys Controlling Stake in His Former ‘Cruzeiro’ Club

Ronaldo is official a club owner…

The 45-year-old Brazilian retired soccer player, who played for Real Madrid and Brazil’s national team, has bought a controlling stake in his former club Cruzeiro.

Ronaldo  Ronaldo, who played for Cruzeiro as a teenager in the early 1990s before going on to become one of the most successful center forwards in soccer history, finalized the deal with the help of Brazilian investment bank XP.

The transaction, which was done through Ronaldo’s Tara Sports company and is still subject to what the bank called “a series of conditions,” sees Ronaldo invest 400 million reais ($70 million) in the Belo Horizonte club, which has spent two years in Brazil’s second division.

“I am so happy to have concluded this operation,” Ronaldo said in a video posted by the Cruzeiro president, adding, while holding one of the club’s blue shirts, that he wants to “give back to Cruzeiro and take them where they deserve to be.”

“We have a lot of hard to work to do. There’s nothing to celebrate yet but we bring a lot of hard work and the ambition to make Cruzeiro great again.”

He wrote on Instagram: “It’s my turn to try and open doors for the team. Not as a hero. Not with superpowers to single-handedly change reality. But with immense responsibility. With intelligent and sustainable management for medium- and long-term growth.”

“I don’t have all the answers to the questions that I ask myself and I possibly won’t have all the answers to the questions that you will ask me,” he wrote in an open letter to fans.

“What I do know is that the kid who learnt at Cruzeiro that dreams can come true today makes me believe that it is possible to rescue the club from its crisis.”

It is the second foray into management for the former PSV Eindhoven, InternazionaleAC MilanBarcelona and Corinthians striker. Ronaldo bought a 51% stake in Spanish club Real Valladolid in 2018.

Neither he nor Cruzeiro provided any significant details but XP said in a statement “it seeks to help the Brazilian football industry with professionalisation, capitalization and opening new opportunities.”

Ronaldo posted a blue heart and a fox — the Cruzeiro mascot — on Twitter, and a club spokesperson confirmed the deal.

Cruzeiro also told the fans they were “phenomenal”, in a reference to Ronaldo’s nickname as a player, “Ronaldo Fenomeno”.

The deal comes a few months after the Brazilian Congress sanctioned a law allowing football clubs, historically fan-owned and closed off to outside investors, to become businesses.

“This is the first bit of business in a relevant new front for the investment banking market in Brazil, the country of football,” said Jose Berenguer, CEO of Banco XP.

“I have no doubt this is transformational in the history of Brazilian sport. We will have clubs that are stronger, with the capacity for global investment. Brazilian football will never be the same again.”