Cesar Azpilicueta Extends Chelsea FC Contract for Two More Years

Cesar Azpilicueta is staying put…

The 32-year-old Spanish soccer player has decided to extend his contract with Chelsea for another two years instead of moving to FC Barcelona.

Cesar Azpilicueta ESPN sources report that the Spain international reached an agreement to join Barcelona a few months ago but negotiations between both clubs stalled more than expected and Azpilicueta has opted to stay at Stamford Bridge.

Azpilicueta had been hoping to resolve his future before Chelsea’s Premier League opening game at Everton on Saturday.

He has already informed Barca of his decision and signed a contract extension with the London club for the next two seasons.

“I am really happy to extend my stay at Chelsea, my home,” Azpilicueta said ion Chelsea’s announcement. “It is almost 10 years since I first arrived and joined the club so I really feel the love and I am really excited for the new project we have in our hands.

“I would like to say thank you to [chairman and co-controlling owner] Mr Todd [Boehly] and [co-controlling owner] Mr Behdad [Eghbali] for giving me the opportunity to keep my journey at this amazing club and I am really looking forward to continuing our adventure. I am a really proud captain and I hope we can share many good memories together.”

Manager Thomas Tuchel wasn’t keen on letting his captain leave this summer and new owner Boehly stood by his wish, according to ESPN.

According to sources, Tuchel sees Azpilicueta as a key member in the dressing room and his presence brings stability amid upheaval at Chelsea in recent months.

“We are so happy that Cesar is staying at Chelsea for a minimum of two more years,” Boehly said. “We are thrilled with our captain showing his exemplary commitment and leadership yet again. There is still so much to do together.”

ESPN reported in November that Xavi told Barca to sign Azpilicueta to strengthen his defensive options.

Barca obliged and reached a verbal agreement for the defender to move to Camp Nou as a free agent. However, an appearance-related clause triggered an automatic one-year extension for the player at the end of the season.

Xavi was so interested in bringing the defender to the club that Barca were ready to pay a small fee to Chelsea to sign Azpilicueta. But the LaLiga giants prioritiszed other signings and decided to delay their pursuit of Chelsea’s captain.

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.

Isco Declared “The Future” of Spain’s National Soccer Team

Isco is being heralded as the future of Spanish soccer…

Spain’s national team manager Vicente del Bosque has placed the future of Spanish football in the hands of the 21-year-old midfielder, insisting the Real Madrid recruit “is the future” for La Roja.

Isco

Francisco Román Alarcón Suárez, commonly known as Isco, played for Spain’s Under-21 side as they claimed the European Championship title last month, scoring a penalty in the final win over Italy.

His bronze boot-winning performance in the tournament reaffirmed Real Madrid’s interest in Isco and his five-year contract at the Bernabeu is likely to allow him to become a regular in the national team over the coming years.

Isco has made one appearance in Del Bosque’s side, but he’s confident the young futbalista can comfortably succeed the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Xabi Alonso, alongside Real Madrid target Asier Illarramendi.

“We have a lot of hope pinned to Isco, he is the future of the national team,” Del Bosque told Radio Nacional de Espana. “Illarramendi is the complete midfielder. He has the personality to play for any team in the world.”

Del Bosque also responded to the criticism of Alvaro Arbeloa and Iker Casillas following the Confederations Cup final, claiming both players were crucial for Spain throughout the tournament.

“Alvaro played very well throughout the tournament,” he said. “It’s as if we are always looking for the weak link and we are all guilty of that. Casillas was magnificent.

“We played good football at times but the final wiped away everything we did up until then. We now have another year to try to make sure we have a good World Cup – if we qualify.”

Messi Extends His Contract with FC Barcelona Through 2018

Lionel Messi isn’t planning to leave Spain anytime soon…

The 25-year-old Argentine soccer star, who won his record-breaking fourth consecutive Ballon d’Or, signed a contract extension Thursday that will keep him with FC Barcelona until June 30, 2018, the team announced on its website.

Lionel Messi

Messi, whose contract wasn’t due to expire until June 2016, decided to add two more years to his contract with the La Liga powerhouse..

Barça has enjoyed one of the best runs of success in team history, including two UEFA Champions League titles and three Spanish league crowns, since Messi became a regular starter in the 2006-07 season.

Messi, meanwhile, has ridden his great chemistry with fellow FC Barcelona superstars like  Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez to award-winning results.

The deal had already been reached in mid-December but an official signing ceremony was held Thursday afternoon and attended by FC Barcelona’s president, Sandro Rosell.

Last month, Barça stars Xavi and defenseman Carles Puyol signed two-year and three-year contract extensions, respectively.

Messi enrolled in Barça’s youth academy at the age of 13 and made his debut as a member of the club’s first team three years later in a friendly match against Portuguese-league club Porto.

Xavi Signs Two-Year Contract Extension with FC Barcelona

Xavier Xavi Hernandez doesn’t have plans to change his team jersey anytime soon…

The 33-year-old Spanish midfielder has signed a contract extension that will keep him with Futbol Club Barcelona through June 2016, according to team officials.

Xavier Hernandez

Hernandez has been with Barça since the start of his professional career, appearing in a record of 659 official matches for the club.

Hernandez signed the two-year extension in the presence of club President Sandro Rosell, Vice President Josep Maria Bartomeu and Sporting Director Andoni Zubizarreta.

“This is a special day because it means I’ll spend more years at Barça, this is where I want to be,” said Hernandez, who has been capped 119 times for the Spanish national team. “My first choice was always to stay here. The club has made an effort and I am grateful.”

Hernandez declined to speculate about how long he’ll remain with FC Barcelona.

“I know how demanding it is but I’d like to stay many more years,” he said. “There are many players that are able to play in my position and they’ve shown that they can do it. Barça will continue to perform when I’m not around.”

Messi: Best Player in Europe Award Finalist

He’s already been named the best international athlete at the Espy Awards… And now Lionel Messi could be named the best fútbol player in Europe.

The 25-year-old Argentine soccer sensation, who has won FIFA’s Ballon d’Or for three years in a row, has been shortlisted for the 2011-12 UEFA Best Player in Europe Award. He’ll face-off against his Futbol Club Barcelona teammate Andrés Iniesta and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo.
Lionel Messi
The three soccer stars gained the most points in a vote among 53 sports journalists representing each of the European soccer governing body’s member associations. The finalists are all being recognized for their great performance overall performance last season.

Juventus playmaker Andrea Pirlo came in fourth in the election, while Barcelona’s Xavi, who finished second in last year’s edition of the award, rounded out the top five.

The remaining three players will now go into a deciding vote in Monaco during the Champions League group stage draw on August 30.

Messi was the last year’s winner.

A Ballon d’Or Threepeat for Messi?

He’s the reigning Ballon d’Or winner, having won the coveted trophy two years in a row… And now Lionel Messi is on the verge of a threepeat!

But the 24-year-old Argentine soccer superstar will have to beat out his fellow Futbol Club Barcelona teammate Xavi and his Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo for the trophy, which is given annually to the player considered to have performed the best in the previous season.

Lionel-Messi-Barcelona-Football-Player

The three players were shortlisted this week for the 2011 FIFA Ballon d’Or, with Messi the strong favorite to become only the second player in the award’s 55-year history to claim the trophy hat-trick in successive years.

Michael Platini, now president of European soccer’s governing body Uefa, is the only player to have achieved the feat to date. The Frenchman took home the award in 1983, 1984 and 1985.

Dutch stars Johan Cruyff and Marco van Basten also claimed the title three times, but not in successive years.

The Ballon d’Or is awarded based on votes by coaches and captains of international teams, as well as journalists from around the world.

Meanwhile, Brazil’s Marta will face off against the United States’ Abby Wambach and Japan’s Homare Sawa for the player of the year crown in the women’s division.

The 2011 awards will be voted for by national team coaches and captains, as well as a panel of soccer journalists.

The winners will be presented at a special ceremony in Zurich, Switzerland on January 9.