France Squad Call-Ups: 7 Premier League Stars Feature, Lenglet Earns Spot & Lacazette Snubbed

??Arsenal striker ?Alexandre Lacazette has been left out of the France squad for the upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers, while ?Barcelona’s Clement Lenglet has been included for the first time.

Depsite being named the Gunners’ Player of the Season earlier this month, there is no place for Lacazette in Didier Deschamps’ 23-man squad, which instead includes ?Chelsea’s ?Olivier Giroud and Sevilla’s Wissam Ben Yedder for June’s qualifiers against Turkey and Andorra.


Deschamps, explaining Lacazette’s omission, said via the ?Metro: “There’s no reason for us not to see him again, I had a difficult choice to make, with Ben Yedder coming out of a big season too.

“I have a choice to make and I chose Wissam [Ben Yedder]. He has scored 30 goals in all competitions this season. He scored in big games, he knows how to play in alone in attack. He’s named in this group of attackers as another option at one time or another.”

Meanwhile, Barça centre-back Lenglet has been included for the first time after an impressive debut season at the Camp Nou, where he has made 44 appearances and edged compatriot Samuel Umtiti out of the starting lineup.

?Manchester City’s Aymeric Laporte, however, is snubbed yet again by Deschamps despite starring in the Citizens’ treble-winning season and being named in the PFA Team of the Year, with Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma among the preferred defenders after an impressive season on loan at ?Everton.

Kurt Zouma

Lenglet isn’t the only new face in this French camp, as Lyon full-back Leo Dubois and Lille goalkeeper Mike Maignan prepare to join up with the World Cup winners for the first time next month.

Chelsea midfielder ?N’Golo Kante has struggled with injury of late, but having returned to training ahead of the Europa League final, the 28-year-old has been named among Deschamps’ midfielders alongside ?Manchester United’s ?Paul Pogba.

N'golo Kante,Paul Pogba

Les Bleus take on Bolivia in a friendly on June 2, before two qualifiers away from home against Turkey on June 6 and Andorra on June 11. 


GoalkeepersAlphonse Areola, Benjamin Lecomte, Hugo Lloris, Mike Maignan.

Defenders: Lucas Digne, Clement Lenglet, Ferland Mendy, Benjamin Pavard, Leo Dubois, Raphael Varane, Samuel Umtiti, Kurt Zouma

Midfielders: N’Golo Kante, Blaise Matuidi, Tanguy Ndombele, Paul Pogba, Moussa Sissoko

Forwards: Wissam Ben Yedder, Kingsley Coman, Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Florian Thauvin.

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Tottenham & Barcelona ‘in Negotiations’ Over Potential Deals for Malcom & Andre Gomes

?Tottenham have entered negotiations with Barcelona for midfielder Andre Gomes and winger Malcom, Spanish newspaper Sport report.

Mauricio Pochettino is currently preparing for the biggest game of his managerial career, as Spurs take on Liverpool in next month’s Champions League final, but it looks like the Argentine boss is already plotting for next season.

Mauricio Pochettino

According to ?Sport, ?Tottenham have begun talks with ?Barça for the services of ?Andre Gomes as well as Malcom, with the latter valued at at least €40m.

Gomes has already gained one season of Premier League experience after spending the current campaign on loan at ?Everton, making 29 appearances during his spell at Goodison Park, with the Euro 2016 winner ?reportedly closing in on a €30m transfer to Tottenham.

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The Toffees’ loan deal for the Portuguese midfielder includes an option to buy, but Spurs’ offer is said to be higher and Gomes would favour a move to the Champions League finalists.

Meanwhile, Malcom only joined the Spanish champions last summer from French side Bordeaux but has struggled to gain the trust of Ernesto Valverde at the Camp Nou, where he made just six league starts in his debut season.

Pochettino famously failed to sign a single player during last summer’s transfer window, with Malcom’s compatriot Lucas Moura the last player to join the Lilywhites back in January 2018.

However, it looks like Spurs will be entering the market this time around as they look to build on another impressive season, which could see the north London side lift the Champions League trophy for the first time in their history next month.

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Argentina Officially Announce 23-Man Squad for 2019 Copa America

?Argentina have officially announced their 23-man squad for the 2019 Copa America in Brazil this summer.

Head coach Lionel Scaloni initially revealed a 40-man squad for the tournament, but he whittled that number down to 23 on Tuesday.

The biggest omission from the squad is ??Inter’s ?Mauro Icardi, who has been left out of the squad after missing a large portion of the season following a public falling out with the club. That, coupled with the fact that the striker has struggled for form since coming back into the side, has left Scaloni with little choice other than to leave him out.

Similarly unsurprising is the inclusion of ?Lionel Messi, who brought his temporary hiatus from international football to an end in March. He’ll no doubt be desperate to end his long wait for a trophy with Argentina after agonisingly missing out in the previous two Copa America finals.

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There are also inclusions for a handful of Premier League players, including Manchester City duo Sergio Aguero and Nicolas Otamendi, Watford’s Roberto Pereyra and Tottenham defender Juan Foyth.

This is the first time Aguero has been called up to represent the national side since Scaloni took over the reigns following La Seleccion’s disappointing World Cup campaign, so it remains to be seen how big a role he will end up playing in Brazil.

Argentina have been drawn in Group B  against Colombia, Paraguay and guest nation Qatar and will get their tournament underway on June 15.


Full Squad

Goalkeepers: Franco Armani (River Plate), Agustin Marchesin (Club America), Esteban Andrada (Boca Juniors)

Defenders: Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City), Ramiro Funes Mori (Villarreal), Marcos Acuna (Sporting Lisbon), Nicolas Tagliafico (Ajax), German Pezzella (Fiorentina), Renzo Saravia (Racing), Juan Foyth (Tottenham Hotspur)

Midfielders: Angel Di Maria (PSG), Roberto Pereyra (Watford), Giovani Lo Celso (Real Betis), Leandro Paredes (PSG), Rodrigo De Paul (Udinese), Exequiel Palacios (River Plate), Guido Rodriguez (Club America)

Forwards: Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Angel Correa (Atletico Madrid), Lautaro Martinez (Inter), Matias Suarez (River Plate)?

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The 11 Highest Paid Managers in European Football

The definition of what a football manager is may have changed over the years, but they are arguably still the most important person at a club as it remains their job to ‘manage’ the players, oversee training and pick the team, with responsibility for results, good or bad, at their door.

Here’s a look at the 11 highest paid managers (using annual salary) in European club football right now…


?Maurizio Sarri – £5m

Maurizio Sarri

When Chelsea finally secured a deal to hire ex-Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri last summer it was on a contract estimated to be worth £5m in wages each season.

Bizarrely, Sarri has been under pressure virtually ever since arriving and remains so. That is despite securing a return to the Champions League and reaching two cup finals.

Source: Evening Standard


Carlo Ancelotti – £5.3m/€6m

Carlo Ancelotti

Sarri is marginally out-earned by the man who replaced him at Napoli, former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti, who is thought to have agreed a contract worth €6m per season last summer.

The Italian has at least kept Napoli steady in Serie A, securing a comfortable second place finish to ensure Champions League qualification, albeit on fewer points than under Sarri last season.

Source: The Guardian


Unai Emery – £6m

Unai Emery

Arsenal manager Unai Emery was reported to have signed a contract worth £6m per season when he agreed to take over from long-serving boss Arsene Wenger in May 2018.

So far, the Spaniard has overseen an improvement. The Gunners still finished outside the top four in 2018/19 but were seven points better off than a year ago and reached a European final.

Source: Daily Mirror


Manuel Pellegrini – £7m

Manuel Pellegrini

West Ham made a real statement when they brought former Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini back to the Premier League last summer on a contract paying up to £7m annually.

It was a somewhat mixed debut campaign for the Chilean in London, with the Hammers flirting with relegation to begin and eventually clawing their way into the top half to finish the season.

Source: Daily Telegraph


Jurgen Klopp – £7m

Jurgen Klopp

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is estimated to earn at least £7m per season at Anfield, having arrived at the club in the autumn of 2015 to take over from Brendan Rodgers.

That money doesn’t make him anything like the best-paid manager in the Premier League, but it is believed to be close to double the salary he was taking home at old club Borussia Dortmund.

Source: Goal


Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – £7.5m

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Manchester United are thought to be paying Ole Gunnar Solskjaer just half the salary that predecessor Jose Mourinho was earning at Old Trafford, although £7.5m still marks a vast increase on the £400,000 the Norwegian is said to have been on at Molde last year.

The question now is whether Solskjaer can prove he is worth the faith by whipping an underperforming United squad into shape in time for next season.

Source: Daily Mirror


Mauricio Pochettino – £8.5m

Mauricio Pochettino

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino signed a new contract worth £8.5m per season at the end of the 2017/18 campaign, committing his future to Spurs until 2023.

The Argentine has proven to be worth every penny in the first season of that bumper new deal, guiding Tottenham to a first-ever European Cup/Champions League final.

Source: Daily Telegraph


Zinedine Zidane – £10.5m/€12m

Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane walked back into the Real Madrid job in March and pocketed a hefty pay rise on the €7.5m plus bonuses he was reported to be earning during his first spell as Bernabeu coach.

This time around the four-time Champions League winner (three as a coach, one as a player) is said to be earning a net salary of €12m in the Spanish capital.

Source: El Confidencial


Pep Guardiola – £15.2m

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It was not clear last year whether Pep Guardiola’s contract extension came with a pay rise, but the Manchester City boss is the best-paid manager in the Premier League on at least £15m nonetheless.

The latest gossip is that after retaining the Premier League title and completing England’s first ever domestic treble, Guardiola is in line for a bumper new deal potentially worth £20m per year.

Source: Daily Telegraph


Ernesto Valverde – £20.2m/€23m

Ernesto Valverde

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde has so far enjoyed a monopoly in La Liga after winning the Spanish title in each of his first two seasons at Camp Nou, although he has fallen short in Europe.

The 55-year-old only had a contract until the end of this season until relatively recently, but he extended it in February until the summer of 2020, with the option of a further year.

Source: France Football


Diego Simeone – £35.9m/€41m

Diego Simeone

The latest contract Diego Simeone signed at Atletico Madrid was reported to have put him on a salary around that of star player Antoine Griezmann.

Having spent three years with the club as a player, the Argentine returned to the club as coach in 2011 and has crammed a lot in, wining two Europa Leagues, the Copa del Rey, La Liga and reached two Champions League finals during that time.

Source: France Football


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Nelson Semedo Discharged From Hospital After Suffering Head Injury in 2-2 Eibar Draw

?Barcelona right back Nelson Semedo has been released from hospital after receiving a nasty head injury during his side’s 2-2 draw with Eibar on Sunday.

Semedo was removed from the game at half-time having clashed heads with Eibar centre back Paulo Oliveira in the 38th minute, but has now been discharged from a hospital in Bilbao having gone through thorough observation and testing.

The Portugal international has appeared 45 times in all competitions for ?Barcelona in the 2018/19 campaign and will be hoping to be involved in the Copa del Rey final against Valencia on Saturday.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen,Nelson Semedo

Releasing an official statement on the ?club site, Barcelona stated: “Semedo has undergone the necessary tests required for the head injury he received against Eibar on Sunday, and has been discharged from hospital. 

“The player returns to Barcelona to continue with the established protocol regarding this kind of injury and an evaluation will be made of when he can return to training.”

If Barcelona medical staff grant Semedo permission to play the final in accordance with head injury procedure, the 25-year-old could make his ninth Copa del Rey appearance of the season.

Semedo picked up the injury not long before half-time, but continued to play through to the break before being withdrawn from the match. In the end, his side were held to what was a ?frustrating 2-2 draw ahead of a huge fixture against Valencia this weekend.

The Portuguese defender signed for the Catalan giants from Benfica in 2017 for a reported fee of around €30m and has made 26 league appearances, scoring one goal for the club.

Nelson Semedo

As Blaugrana manager Ernesto Valverde looks to cap off the 2018/19 campaign with a Copa del Rey trophy, Semedo’s involvement in Saturday’s squad would certainly provide him with a boost in both defensive and attacking areas.

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Liverpool Out of Race to Sign Matthijs de Ligt as Barcelona Emerge as Frontrunners

?Liverpool are not expected to pursue highly coveted Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt this summer, despite recent speculation linking the Reds with an approach for the teenage prodigy.

De Ligt’s starring role in Ajax’s run to within a few seconds of the Champions League final has seen the young Dutchman linked with most of Europe’s best and richest clubs this season.

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Barcelona have long been seen as the favourites to strike a deal after already completing an €86m deal for teammate Frenkie de Jong. But the likes of Juventus, Real Madrid, Manchester City and Manchester United have all been mentioned as suitors at one point or another.

Liverpool also had also been credited with alleged interest, with the idea of De Ligt partnering international colleague Virgil van Dijk in defence a mouth watering prospect to fans.

The speculation of a potential move to Anfield was even accelerated when a claim attributed to author and Spanish football writer Guillem Balague suggested Liverpool have ‘been talking’ with De Ligt ahead of potentially making a more formal approach.

Matthijs de Ligt,Rasmus Nissen Kristensen

However, the popular James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo has now quickly moved to quash such rumours, explaining that there is no truth to the claims of any negotiations, adding that Liverpool ‘are not trying to secure the services of De Ligt’.

The point is made that manager Jurgen Klopp is ‘happy’ with his existing centre-back options ahead of next season – Joel Matip, Joe Gomez, Dejan Lovren in addition to Van Dijk – and therefore ‘isn’t looking to strengthen’ that part of the squad ahead of the 2019/20 campaign.

For the latest on where De Ligt might actually be going, Sky Sports have waded in to claim that he is ‘set to join’ Barcelona this summer, which is where most had expected him to go anyway.

De Light would join a healthy centre-back stable containing Gerard Pique, Clement Lenglet and Samuel Umtiti, with 19-year-old Jean-Clair Todibo a potential candidate to spend next season out on loan and Thomas Vermaelen expected to leave Camp Nou this summer.

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Man Utd Approach for Ajax Goalkeeper Andre Onana ‘Rejected’ as Red Devils Evaluate Barca Stopper

?Ajax have turned down an approach from Manchester United for their goalkeeper Andre Onana, with the Dutch champions under no pressure to sell the Cameroonian.

A series of error-strewn displays from the normally reliable David de Gea has left Ole Gunnar Solskjaer feeling the need to bolster his options between the sticks with the 23-year-old on the club’s radar.


With the window now open, ?United made an offer the sign the former ?Barcelona youth player, but were ‘rejected’ by the Eredivisie outfit according to Daily Record journalist ?Duncan Castles. Red Devils vice-chairman Ed Woodward to looking to bring in youthful players during the summer who equally have the potential to increase in value, with the young goalkeeper ticking all the boxes in that respect.

Erik ten Hag’s side have already sold Frenkie de Jong to Barcelona, while Matthijs de Ligt is destined to leave the Dutch capital as well, meaning the club expect to gross over €150m on the pair alone. As such, the sale of Onana is not high on their list of priorities with the club under no pressure to sell.

Castles claims the club value the Cameroonian at €40m, which United deem ‘inflated’, therefore they may turn their attention towards Barcelona goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen. Both Onana and Cillessen are known for their ball-playing abilities, a move that could hint towards a potential tactical switch for the ?Premier League outfit.

Jasper Cillessen

Should the Red Devils move for the Dutch goalkeeper he would command a less hefty fee, with Castles stating La Blaugrana are seeking €25m plus performance-related variables for the 30-year-old shot-stopper. The player himself is keen on a move away from the Camp Nou, after making just five ?La Liga appearances in the past three seasons.

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Eibar 2-2 Barcelona: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Blaugrana End La Liga Campaign With a Draw

Champions Barcelona were held to an eventful 2-2 by Eibar at the Ipurua Municipal Stadium on Sunday in the final game of another victorious La Liga campaign for the Blaugrana.

Eibar had the greater share of chances in the opening exchanges and punished the champions for their slow start. Barcelona loanee Marc Cucurella was afforded far too much time in the visitors’ box before firing past Jasper Cillessen, who should have done better as he allowed the ball to squeeze past him.?

If the early goal came as a shock to ?Barca’s systems, it did not take long for Ernesto Valverde’s side to muster a response. ?Lionel Messi made a darting run into the Eibar penalty area and was picked out superbly by Arturo Vidal, leaving the Argentine the simple task of tucking away a simple finish by his standards.


Barca’s talisman had spared his side’s blushes once again, but he was not finished there. Messi broke clear of the home side’s backline for a second time in quick succession, picked out by Ivan Rakitic, before lobbing Marko Dmitrovic with great composure, as the champions turned the game on its head with little over half an hour played.

However, there was yet another twist in the tale, as Cillessen was again punished for some poor goalkeeping. The Dutchman was caught off his line by Pablo De Blasis, who produced a sublime finish to fire a looping effort over the Barca goalkeeper to equalise for the hosts. Neither side were able to find the winner in a less eventful second half, with both earning a point apiece.


EIBAR

Player Ratings

Starting XI: Dmitrovic (5); De Blasis (7), Oliveira (5), Ramis (6), Jose Angel (6); Orellana (6), Escalante (6), Jordan (6), Cucurella (8); Enrich (7), Charles (6)

Pablo De Blasis

Substitutes: Garcia (6), Alvarez (5), Cardona (N/A)


BARCELONA

Key Talking Point

Ernesto Valverde surprisingly named a near full-strength lineup for Barcelona’s final La Liga game of the season, despite having already wrapped up the title with ease and a huge Copa del Rey final against Valencia looming large next Saturday.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Philippe Coutinho and Luis Suarez were among those missing from the squad through injuries, as Valverde opted to start with the most senior XI available to him, with youngsters such as Riqui Puig, Carlos Alena and Moussa Wague named on the bench.


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The visitors’ intentions to get the job done with minimal risk were clear, but the overall execution was less than convincing. Barca struggled to deal with Eibar’s early pressure and allowed the home side to take the lead far too easily, with Lionel Messi once again coming to the rescue.

Jasper Cillessen’s calamitous performance gifted Eibar their two goals, whilst the visitors lacked the necessary attacking support for Messi which Suarez usually provides. In truth, were it not for Messi’s brilliance, Barca would have finished their La Liga campaign with a defeat.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Cillessen (3); Semedo (4), Pique (5), Lenglet (5), Alba (6); Vidal (7), Busquets (6), Rakitic (7); Roberto (5), Messi (8*), Malcom (5)

Lionel Messi,Marko Dmitrovic

Substitutes: Wague (6), Alena (5), Perez (5)


STAR MAN – Lionel Messi carrying Barcelona and rescuing his side from peril is by no means unusual, but the Blaugrana’s below-par display, coupled with the Argentine’s trademark brilliance on Sunday, emphasised once more just how crucial the iconic attacker is for Valverde’s side.

With auxiliary right-back Sergi Roberto lining up on the right wing in the absences of Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele, it was unsurprising that Messi’s attacking prowess carried even more weight than usual for Barca. However, without their star man, the champions would have been comfortably beaten on Sunday, but for their talisman’s heroics.




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Looking Ahead

With Sunday’s draw in the Basque Country having concluded Barcelona’s La Liga campaign, the Blaugrana will ?look to complete the domestic double when they take on Valencia in the Copa del Rey final next Saturday.

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Barcelona Transfers: How Ernesto Valverde’s Team Could Look in 2019/20

?On the back of a ‘disappointing’ season, Barcelona are set for a huge summer of upheaval.

The Catalan giants retained the La Liga crown with ease and have reached another Copa del Rey final, in which they will face Valencia and are expected to complete a second consecutive domestic double.

Still, a monumental capitulation against Liverpool saw Ernesto Valverde’s side crash out of the Champions League in unprecedented fashion at the semi-final stage, and their European shortcomings look set to prompt a huge summer of change at Camp Nou.


Whether or not Valverde remains at the helm next season remains to be seen, with suggestions growing that the Spaniard could be replaced by the likes of Ajax mastermind Erik ten Hag and club great Ronald Koeman in the summer.

Regardless of who is boss, ?Barça are pressing on full steam ahead with their transfer business. Frenkie de Jong is already on board, and further superstar additions are seemingly very near on the horizon.

The Blaugrana’s business could see them field what many could only dream up as a fantasy XI next season. Here is a look at how Valverde’s side could line up next season.


GK: Marc-Andre ter Stegen

Marc-Andre Ter Stegen

Despite falling short of continental supremacy this term, multiple stars of Barca’s current crop have still been suggested as the best in Europe for their respective positions this season, and none more so than goalkeeper Ter Stegen.

The German has been a model of consistency and composure between the sticks for the Blaugrana and has really grown in stature as arguably the finest shot-stopper around. Whilst the likes of ?Liverpool and ?Chelsea invested figures around the £70m mark to recruit world-class additions in goal, Barca have simply groomed their modest investment into the best around.

Ter Stegen is the Blaugrana’s last line of defence and the starting base for their attack, and will continue to hold down the No 1 jersey next term.


RB: Nelson Semedo

Nelson Semedo

?Having struggled to truly replace Dani Alves since the Brazilian’s departure from Camp Nou two years ago, Nelson Semedo finally appears to have provided the missing link on the right-hand side of Barca’s defence this season.

The Portuguese was recruited from Benfica at considerable expense in 2017, and struggled to nail down a regular place in the Blaugrana’s backline as academy product Sergi Roberto emerged as a promising alternate option.

However, the Spaniard has often been liable to defensive errors this term, whilst Semedo has developed into a fine all-rounder on the right flank, proving equally adept both defensively and going forward, and finally looks to have solved the long-running right back conundrum.


CB: Gerard Pique

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Having enjoyed a hugely successful career in Catalonia for the best part of the last decade, Gerard Pique’s consistency in form appeared to be dipping in the later phases of his career last season.

However, the Spaniard has reemerged as a force to be reckoned with in defence last season and, at the age of 32, remains one of the finest central defensive performers in Europe. His role in Barça’s backline is safe.


CB: Matthijs de Ligt?

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Barça may still have some of the best defensive options around, but a 4-0 collapse at Anfield simply cannot pass without response and reparation measures.

In fairness, even before the calamitous result on Merseyside, there was already a strong sense that the Catalans would look to reinforce the spine of their team with more youthful, long-term options who could guide the club into a successful new era next term.

Having starred as the captain of an Ajax side which enjoyed a remarkable run to the Champions League semi-finals this term, Matthijs de Ligt has caught the attention of the entire continent, and Barcelona appear best-placed to sign the Dutchman for a fee which could exceed £60m.


LB: Jordi Alba

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Whilst the likes of Samuel Umtiti and Thomas Vermaelen are apparently among stars who could be sacrificed in defence to make way for expensive new arrivals?, Jordi Alba remains a fundamental figure in at the back for Valverde.

The Spaniard has been arguably his side’s most consistent performer over the course of his six-year spell in Catalonia (apart from, you know, that guy), and his importance at Camp Nou is greater than ever. Barca may look to sign a back-up option, but Alba’s first-choice status at left back is seemingly untouchable.


CM: Frenkie de Jong

Frenkie de Jong

Whilst the likes of Gerard Pique will continue to provide the experience through the spine of the team, the £65m splurge to secure the services of Frenkie de Jong midway through the season was clear evidence of Barça’s desire to add fresh impetus.

Having starred at the heart of Ajax’s monumental Champions League run this term, De Jong has already proven his ability to carry the fight for his side in the middle of the park with tremendous drive, energy and technique which will surely make the Dutchman a huge hit in Catalonia.


CM: Sergio Busquets

Sergio Busquets

De Jong’s arrival will add the required levels of fresh energy and renewed quality in midfield next term but, similarly to Pique’s role alongside De Ligt in central defence, Busquets’ presence, composure and experience will continue to offer a vital balance in the middle of the park.

The Spaniard is now 30, but few others in Europe can claim to assert the level of authority and technical brilliance from the hub of their side that Busquets still provides excellently for Barca.


CM: Arthur

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Having struggled for natural successors to iconic midfield duo Xavi and Andres Iniesta, Barça may finally have cracked the winning formula ahead of next term.

With creativity and flair in abundance, Arthur has already emerged as key to the succession plan at Camp Nou this term as Iniesta’s heir apparent, whilst the club are likely to offload Ivan Rakitic to fund their business, paving the way for De Jong to make the ‘Xavi?’ role his own next season.


FW: Lionel Messi

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How much more can really be said about this man that would deviate from sheer repetition of superlatives?

?Lionel Messi has continued to deliver with stunning consistency and frightfully brilliant ability in attack this season?, and is only likely to (somehow) improve next term with the support of high-quality additions from the transfer market.


FW: Luis Suarez

Luis Suarez

The Uruguayan may no longer be performing at the same levels of his brilliant Liverpool best, but ?Luis Suarez has essentially re-invented himself as a more predatory poacher in the box, and his telepathic relationship with Messi remains a cornerstone of Barça’s attack.

The Catalans are likely to recruit a backup option for Suarez to ease the burden on him as the club’s only adequate central striker, though probably an understudy closer to the mould of Paco Alcacer than to the uninspired Kevin-Prince Boateng.


FW: Antoine Griezmann

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The most exciting feature of Barcelona’s new-look side ne?xt season will likely come from the seemingly inevitable addition of Antoine Griezmann.

Barca have sorely lacked the ‘other’ dimension in attack alongside Messi and Suarez since ?Neymar’s departure in 2017. Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho have both failed to add anything close to the consistency and cutting edge that their Brazilian predecessor once offered, although the former has shown some promise. 

Griezmann’s recent announcement that he would leave Atletico Madrid in the summer was almost immediately followed by reports that Barca were prepared to trigger the Frenchman’s €120m release clause. The 28-year-old appears destined to add the missing piece of the puzzle.

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Eibar vs Barcelona Preview: Where to Watch, Live Stream, Kick Off Time & Team News

?La Liga champions Barcelona travel to mid-table Eibar on Sunday afternoon to contest the final league game of another outstanding domestic season for the Catalan giants.

Ernesto Valverde’s side have run away with the title once more and are currently 11 points clear of second-placed Atletico Madrid.

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Their campaign does not finish here, however, as they will attempt to complete back to back doubles by beating Valencia in the final of the Copa del Rey next Saturday.

For Eibar and their fans, it will be a day of celebration as they sit comfortably in 12th position and can look ahead to their sixth consecutive season in the Spanish top flight.


Where to Watch

?When Is Kick Off? Sunday 19 May?
?What Time Is Kick Off? ?15:15 (BST)
?Where Is it Played? ?Ipurua Municipal Stadium
?TV Channel/Live Stream? ?Eleven Sports 1
?Referee? Alejandro Hernandez

Team News

Eibar remain without defenders Pedro Bigas and Ruben Pena while centre back Anaitz Arbilla is still missing for the home side.

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Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele are still absent for Barcelona and both are major doubts for the cup final with knee and hamstring injuries respectively.

Brazilian midfielder Arthur should be fit enough to take a place on the bench but his international colleague Philippe Coutinho is not expected to feature as he is suffering from a thigh problem.

Philippe Coutinho,Arthur

With the game against Valencia just six days away, Valverde is expected to make some changes to his usual team with Jasper Cillessen, Samuel Umtiti, Carles Alena and Abel Ruiz set to start.


Predicted Lineups

Eibar? Dmitrovic; De Blasis?, Ramis, Alvarez, Cote; Escalante, Jordan; Leon, Orellana, Cucurella; Enrich.
?Barcelona ?Cillessen; Semedo, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Busquets, Alena, Rakitic; Malcom, Ruiz, Messi.

Head to Head Record

Barcelona have a perfect sequence of results against Eibar, beating them all nine times they have faced each other in La Liga.

Lionel Messi

In the reverse fixture this season, two goals from Suarez and one from Lionel Messi gave Barca a comfortable 3-0 victory at Camp Nou in January.


Recent Form

Eibar have shown true mid-table form in the last few weeks, winning two and losing three of their last five matches.

FBL-ESP-LIGA-VALENCIA-EIBAR

Victories on the road against Valencia and at home to Real Betis were sandwiched between three defeats to Atletico, Huesca and Villarreal, where they did not score a goal in any of the games.

Barcelona have shown no such inconsistency, winning four of their previous five league fixtures, although a surprise defeat away to Celta Vigo at the beginning of May will give Eibar hope that they can spring another upset on Sunday afternoon.

Here’s how each side has fared in their last five games.

?Eibar Barcelona?
?Villarreal 1-0 Eibar (12/5) Barcelona 2-0 Getafe (12/5)?
?Eibar 1-0 Real Betis (5/5) ?Celta Vigo 2-0 Barcelona (4/5)
?Valencia 0-1 Eibar (28/4) ?Barcelona 1-0 Levante (27/4)
?Huesca 2-0 Eibar (23/4) ?Alaves 0-2 Barcelona (23/4)
?Eibar 0-1 Atletico Madrid (20/4) ?Barcelona 2-1 Real Sociedad (20/4)

Prediction

With the title sewn up weeks ago and Barca eyes potentially looking ahead to the Copa del Rey final, Eibar will see this as a perfect opportunity to end the season by claiming their first ever league victory over the visitors.

Jose Angel Cote,Sergi Roberto

Valverde could well make some changes to his preferred starting XI and, with Suarez out, Barcelona may not be as potent an attacking threat as they usually are.

Saying that, Messi is still due to start for the away side and they have an abundance of talent in their squad which should be enough to at least see them avoid defeat.

Getting their first point against Barcelona will still be seen as a huge scalp by Eibar, and they have a good chance of achieving it.

Prediction: Eibar 1-1 Barcelona

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