Xavi Names Two Barcelona Transfer Targets as He Admits He Wants Nou Camp Return

Barcelona legend Xavi has given his clearest indication yet as to his intentions to return to the Catalan giants, even naming Serge Gnabry and Jadon Sancho as two players he would like to bring to the club. 

Since leaving in 2015, Xavi has earned his stripes coaching in Qatar, and was approached by the club earlier this season following the sacking of Ernesto Valverde.

He rejected it then, and although he says he doesn’t regret that, he does want an eventual return – but only if he is given full control.

Xavier Hernandez

“I am clear that I want to return to Barcelona, I am very excited,” Xavi said in an interview with the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia, as relayed by ?The Guardian. “Now that I have seen myself coaching I think I can bring things to the players. But I made it clear to them that I saw myself in a project that started from zero and in which the decision-making was mine.”

He went on, specifically discussing the decision not to return to the club back in January – saying that there would have to be no ‘toxicity’ in the dressing room for him to take over.

“I don’t take it back. I have no problem,” he went on. “I don’t hide. I would like to work together with people in whom I have confidence, with whom there is loyalty and who are very valid people. There can’t be anyone toxic around the dressing room.”

All that squares with reports from February which claimed Xavi rejected Barca’s advances after they failed to agree to his conditions – ?all eight of them.


The legendary midfielder, who won eight La Liga titles on the pitch, was said then to have wanted full control over all sporting matters, while also demanding the appointment of Carles Puyol as director of football, and a coaching role for his brother. Additionally, he wanted to take over in the summer, with Barca not budging on their ‘now or not-at-all’ stance.

But while an agreement couldn’t be reached then, Xavi’s words now suggest the door is far from closed. He went as far as to discuss his signing policy were he to be appointed, and while he admitted he would be unsure about bringing Neymar to the club, the other two names mentioned are likely to excite fans – the electric Sancho and Gnabry.

He added: “I don’t know if Neymar would fit in due to the social issue, but in football terms I have no doubts it would be a spectacular signing. They don’t need many new players: maybe Jadon Sancho [or] Serge Gnabry.”

Thiago Alcantara do Nascimento,Jadon Malik Sancho,Serge Gnabry

Recent rumours suggest Barca are growing increasingly confident over a ?deal for Inter star Lautaro Martinez and Espanyol teen ?Nico Melamed – though it’s likely any big-money signings will have to be proceeded by the departures of the likes of Philippe Coutinho given the ?current financial situation at the club.

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Philippe Coutinho’s Agent Rubbishes Claims That Daniel Levy Held Up Spurs Deal

?Philippe Coutinho’s agent Kia Joorabchian has vehemently denied that his client’s potential move to Tottenham last summer fell apart because of Spurs’ finances.

The north London club was heavily linked with a move for the Brazilian playmaker during the final weeks of August, but a deal failed to materialise as Tottenham instead wrapped up deals for Giovani Lo Celso and Ryan Sessegnon, while going ahead with the high-profile pursuit of Juventus’ Paolo Dybala.

Joorabchian, representing Coutinho during last summer’s negotiations, has clarified that Tottenham’s financial position had nothing to do with their failure to snare Coutinho in an interview with the Mirror.


Claims had recently emerged in the Spanish press that Coutinho was furious at Spurs chairman Daniel Levy for attempting to renegotiate a cut-price deal in the eleventh hour of talks.

According to Joorabchian, however, the real reason behind discussions stalling was that Coutinho didn’t fit into Mauricio Pochettino’s plans.

“Philippe Coutinho has no personal issue with Daniel Levy and claims otherwise are totally false. The deal did not collapse due to financial reasons,” said Joorabchian.

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It was generally understood during Pochettino’s reign that he preferred to use the transfer market as an opportunity to purchase talented prospects under the age of 25 rather than sign established players such as Coutinho who would unsettle the club’s infamously regimented wage structure.

While Tottenham’s unexpected swoop for Dybala, which fell apart due to convoluted image rights negotiations, was a rare exception, a move for the 27-year-old Coutinho would have been out of keeping for a summer window which saw Spurs secure the services of up-and-coming midfielder Tanguy Ndombélé alongside Sessegnon and Lo Celso.

With Pochettino since replaced by José Mourinho at the Tottenham helm, in part due to the complications arising from being unable to sell and replace attacking midfielder Christian Eriksen in 2019, it remains to be seen whether Spurs will continue to prioritise youth over experience in their transfer dealings.

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Marc-André ter Stegen Admits He’s Missing Football as He Offers Fans an Insight Into Isolation

?Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen has confessed that he is missing football as he gave fans an insight into his day-to-day life during the coronavirus outbreak.

All football in Spain has been ?postponed indefinitely because of the pandemic, with La Liga officials waiting for the all-clear from the government before deciding when to allow teams to return to action.

Marc Andre Ter Stegen

Like the rest of the ?Barcelona squad, ?Ter Stegen has been following guidelines and staying at home, and he told the club’s ?YouTube channel that he is finding it hard having to go without football.

“Communication [with coaches] is easy, we divide into various groups to make it easier,” he revealed. “And of course, we do what they tell us. I try to keep an open mind.

“I miss the pitch a lot, I’d like to be out there again playing football, it’s what I miss most.

“We’re trying to do the best possible in this situation, we’re trying to get people to stay at home, that’s what we can do on social media.”

Ter Stegen is obviously still focused on keeping fit and sharp, but he did confess that he was making the most out of having so much time with his family.

“I try to be a dad, even in situations as negative as the coronavirus there’s always something positive,” he said. “Now I can be more with the family and see how he grows, so quickly. It’s really nice to be with him. He sleeps a lot, that’s true.

“Now I can help with [waking up at night with the baby] too. Dani (his wife) tells me that we can do one day one, then one day the other. For now I’ve only had to get up once but in half an hour he went back to sleep so I went back to bed.”

His wife often took care of most of the other things around the house, but Ter Stegen admitted he was enjoying pulling his weight and helping her out.

“It’s not a routine but it repeats a lot,” he added. We do sport before having lunch, but if we have to clean the house then we do it. We share it and I think that it’s going well.”


For more from Tom Gott, follow him on Twitter!

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Arturo Vidal Set to Finally Leave Barcelona This Summer Amid Inter Interest

?The drawn-out transfer sage that is Arturo Vidal and Inter may finally be reaching its natural end, it appears. 

I Nerazzurri have been long-term admirers of the Chilean midfielder, and their determination to enlist his services has only grown since his former coach Antonio Conte arrived at San Siro. But a move has never quite developed. That could all be about to change, though.

Vidal looked set to join Inter in the January transfer window, but a change in management at Barcelona meant that the deal was shelved, and the 32-year-old had the chance to play his way back into la Blaugrana’s plans for the future. 

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?But ?Calcio Mercato reports that Vidal and Barça are ready to go their separate ways, and with Conte still desperate to add the former Juventus star to his team, a summer transfer looks to be on the cards. 

?Barcelona are in need of stripping assets from their wage bill, and given Vidal has fancied a move to Inter since Christmas, his departure seems to be logical for all parties. 

The Catalan giants will demand a fee of around £10-15m for the tough-tackling midfielder, who despite his advancing years, is still more than capable of competing at the very highest level. 

Conte is keen to bolster his central options with players who have already won trophies and have the experience of success, and ?Vidal has all the credentials to be the Italian coach’s ideal candidate. 

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The Inter boss is also keeping an eye on Bayern star Corentin Tolisso, but since Conte has already worked with Vidal and knows what he’s all about, he is more likely to be the number one target. 

Barça are also willing to allow the Chile international to leave fairly amicably, hoping that the transfer will create a strong relationship with ?Inter, which they could then use in their chase for Argentine sensation Lautaro Martinez. 

The dream move is almost within your grasp, Arturo. 

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The Best Players Ever to Wear Each Shirt Number at Barcelona

?Squad number OCD – a condition characterised by cringing when you see a right-back wearing the no.17 shirt (for example).

It may be because the majority of us wasted our childhoods playing Football Manager (disclaimer – there’s no such thing as ‘wasted time’ on Football Manager, but I’ve got to say it), but when a right midfielder isn’t wearing number seven and a left-back isn’t wearing number three, it makes me shudder.

With so many competitions both domestically and overseas, the days of 16-man squads are long gone. And with it have gone the days of the numbers 1-11 making up a team’s starting XI.

But don’t be fooled by the modern game with players wearing no.99 because they were born in 1999 (*shudders*), still to this day we hear positions referred to as ‘no.10’ or ‘no.8’.

Gianluigi Donnarumma,Gianluigi Buffon

With that in mind, we’ve compiled the best ?Barcelona players ever to have worn the shirt numbers 1-11, and when I tell you that Neymar, Johan Cruyff, Ronaldinho and Diego Maradona are nowhere to be seen, you can probably have a guess at how good this side is.


1. Andoni Zubizarreta

France v Spain

Victor Valdes could make a sizeable case for feeling aggrieved to not be given the nod here, and admittedly he is slightly more decorated when considering team honours.

However, Zubizarreta was probably just about the better goalkeeper, meaning he gets the nod.

Four La Liga titles, one European Cup and two Copa del Rey’s mean Zubizarreta will live long in the hearts of Barcelona fans. He also clocked up 126 caps for Spain, appearing in an astonishing four World Cups.


2. Dani Alves

Dani Alves

The modern day right-back.

One of Pep Guardiola’s very first acts having been promoted to head coach of the senior team was to lure ?Alves away from Sevilla.

Spent eight seasons at Camp Nou winning just about every accolade there is to win at the top level of European football. If you’ve ever got a spare few hours, go and look up the individual and team honours Alves has accrued in his 19-year career- it makes Samuel L. Jackson’s filmography look sparse.


3. Gerard Piqué

Gerard Pique

So, if signing Alves was one of Guardiola’s first acts, signing ?Piqué was his very first act.

Not much higher a compliment than arguably the greatest coach in the world immediately singling you out as his first signing at a club as big as Barcelona.

Piqué created a formidable partnership with Carles Puyol at the heart of the Barça defence. Many questioned whether Piqué would be found out following the retirement of his commanding partner, though he answered those questioned emphatically with the club winning the treble the following year. A giant for club and country.


4. Pep Guardiola

Josep Guardiola

Speak of the devil.

You just know he was one of those annoying kids at school who was good at everything, don’t you?

To say he has gone on to become a better manager than he was a player is some accolade, given he was the lynchpin of one of the most successful sides in Europe.

Guardiola played as a deep-lying playmaker in Johan Cruyff’s team that won the club’s first European Cup in 1992. Not noted for his physical attributes, Guardiola excelled to become one of the greatest midfielders of his generation purely via technical ability and reading of the game. Went on to captain the side from 1997 before his departure in 2001.


5. Carles Puyol

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When you think of Guardiola’s Barça you think of fancy football, flowing attacks, slick through balls and a metronome midfield. But let me tell you, no team gets by on pretty football, and Puyol was the driving force behind that side.

Puyol was a throwback. With his unkempt hair and disregard for how he’s wearing his shirt, his no nonsense approach allowed Pique to become the defender he is today.

It’s often argued that to be a great player you have to be able to cut it internationally and in different leagues, well this man could cut it on any stage in any league in the world. And don’t be fooled into thinking he was just ‘a stopper’. Every player in a Guardiola team had to be able to play football and Puyol certainly could. An all-round brilliant footballer, leader, Barça legend.


6. Xavi

Barcelona's midfielder Xavi Hernandez co

The heartbeat of arguably the greatest club side ever.

There isn’t a medal this man doesn’t have in his trophy cabinet both at club level and internationally. Had he not played in a generation containing Messi and Ronaldo he would undoubtably have had more individual honours than the multiple third place finishes in the Ballon d’Or voting he no doubt keeps in his toilet.

The midfield trio of him, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets dominated world football for years and are a massive part of the reason Spain and Barcelona were so successful. I would doubt the world will ever see a midfield as stylish and effective as these three.


7. Luis Figo

FOOT/BARCELONE/CHELSEA

A controversial choice given his decision to leave for arch-rivals ?Real Madrid, but there’s no hiding the fact that Figo lit up Camp Nou.

Made 249 appearances for the club, scoring 45 goals. His five-year spell in Catalonia resulted in two La Liga titles and two Copa del Rey titles, but his time at Barcelona was curtailed thanks to Florentino Perez’s Galactico experiment.

Shortly after leaving for Madrid he was awarded the Ballon d’Or, an award that he won for his performances in a Barcelona shirt but ultimately paraded in a Real Madrid shirt. Now you understand the bitterness.


8. Andres Iniesta

Andres Iniesta

An absolute magician of a footballer.

In terms of achievements, such are the similarities between Iniesta and his partner in crime, Xavi, you can pretty much copy and paste everything.

Iniesta himself has found himself narrowly missing out on the top individual prizes courtesy of Messrs Ronaldo and Messi, though that shouldn’t overshadow what was a stellar career.

Made an astonishing 674 appearances for Barcelona over a 16-year period, scoring 57 goals.

Special mention to the coolness shown as the ball fell to his feet in the 116th minute of the World Cup final. Unflappable.


9. László Kubala

SOCCER-SPAIN-ALFREDO DI STEFANO-LASZLO KUBALA

The fact that this man edges Johan Cruyff out of our list tells you already what a superstar he is at Barcelona.

Hungarian Kubala is considered a hero to Barcelona fans, scoring 280 goals in his 345 appearances for the club between 1951-1961. His spell at the club saw Barça dominate domestically, notching four La Liga titles.

His seven goals in a 9-0 romp over Sporting de Gijon remains a La Liga record to this day. He would later return to manage the club.


10. Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi

It seems a shame that Ronaldinho and Diego Maradona both miss out but there really could only be one Barcelona number ten.

718 games played; 627 goals scored. Quite incredible.

?Messi’s brilliance is at times forgotten amid the ongoing ‘Messi or Ronaldo’ debate, and it may be that only once he has retired will we be able to look back and truly appreciate how lucky we were to watch this man in his prime.

One set of fans who don’t under appreciate the little magician is the Barça fans. Messi is hailed as a hero to them and can do no wrong, and quite rightly so. Six Ballons d’Or, ten La Liga titles, four Champions Leagues, it’s a shame Argentina haven’t produced a decent defender for about 20 years, or this man would have the lot.


11. Rivaldo

FOOT-EUR-LYON-BARCELONE

Special mention to ?Neymar who was alright at Barcelona, but 130 goals in 235 goals mean Rivaldo takes the number 11 shirt.

The Brazilian World Cup winner wasn’t shy of throwing his weight around at Camp Nou and endured many a fall out with both managers and the club’s hierarchy. But strops aside, his class on the pitch was unquestionable.

Rivaldo rarely settled at a club for long, so the five years he spent at Barcelona are quite staggering. In that time he won two league titles and a whole host of individual accolades. 

His hat-trick against Valencia is widely regarded as the greatest hat-trick of all time, topped off with a magical overhead kick from outside the area. Truly one of the greats of his time.


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7 of Barcelona’s Best Big Game Players

Big players producing big moments on the big stage. We all love to see it. 

And, at a club like Barcelona, who are arguably the greatest club-side of the sport’s modern history, the footballing world have witnessed an unholy number of world-class, match-winning performances delivered by the planet’s greatest players. 

Crucially, they’ve managed it when it has mattered the absolute most.

And, at a club like Barca, all the many title-clinching occasions, each European cup final, and pretty much every single ‘big’ game is deemed a must-win. That’s what is expected, and that’s what happens (for the most part). 

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The standards have been set at such an extraordinarily high level over the years that, now, producing the biggest moments on the biggest of occasions is now part of Barça’s footballing identity.

So, it helps that there have been just a couple of world-beaters to have played for the Catalan giants down the years. And, when it matters most, they have turned up, played the game (not the occasion) and spearheaded their side to send seismic shockwaves around the world with their exceptional performances. 

Without further ado, here’s 90min’s list of ?Barcelona’s greatest-ever big game, big moment players…


Neymar

Champions League final - "Barcelona v Juventus"

Whatever you might think of ?Neymar, and however you may judge the trajectory of his career after his £200m move to PSG in 2017, there’s one thing we all need to agree on: Neymar was a proper match-winner for Barcelona during his time at Camp Nou.

Neymar regularly produced moments of magic that inspired his Barça side to achieve success on the greatest of occasions. How did he fare on the road to the Catalans’ 2015 Champions League victory?

Not only did he score the goal that sealed Barça’s European crown (and historic treble-winning campaign) with a win over Juventus, he also scored twice in the quarter-finals against PSG, and three times in the semis with Bayern Munich.

Biggest Moment: They might not have won the 2017 Champions League, but Neymar produced one of the best-ever individual performances during Barça’s 6-1 victory over PSG in the second leg of the Round of 16 Champions League tie.

After winning a penalty earlier in the game, he then scored twice, and assisted the deciding goal in the final seven minutes – as Barça overturned a 4-0 first leg deficit.

Simply astounding stuff. 


Rivaldo

Rivaldo

The Brazilian hitman is ninth on Barça’s all-time top scorer list, banging in 130 goals in just 235 appearances. His best year was 1999, when he scooped both the Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year – with his contribution to the club immeasurable.

Rivaldo was always among the goals, and regularly finished high up in the ?La Liga scoring charts as Barça won two league titles in succession in 1998 and 1999. But, there was one extraordinarily outstanding moment that the world will never forget. 

Biggest Moment: Some context for you – it was last game of the season, and Barça needed to beat fourth-placed Valencia to secure Champions League football. Who turned up? Rivaldo.

The Brazilian scored what has been commonly accepted as the greatest hat-trick ever. His first was a sumptuous free-kick which he bent in from 30-yards. 1-0 Barça. His second was a thumping left-footed strike from 25-yards. 2-1 Barça. 

And then, with the game level in the 87th minute, Rivaldo produced a stunning overhead kick from the edge of the box to secure the victory.


Andrés Iniesta

Andres Iniesta,Claudio Marchisio

He is the most decorated Spaniard ever, and during his 22-year career at Camp Nou, he won a remarkable 35 trophies.

And, if you thought Iniesta’s role was largely confined to playing the silky second fiddle to Lionel Messi, you’d be wrong. He did do this to excellent effect, but his contribution to his club goes far further. 

Some highlights – Iniesta was considered Barça’s most influential player as they won the ?Champions League final in 2009. It was a similar story six years later – he was named man of the match in the Champions League final as Barça secured a historic treble. 

And, lest we forget the standing ovation he received at the Bernabéu – an inspired Iniesta was instrumental as Barça romped to a 4-0 El Clásico victory in 2015.  

Biggest Moment: Now, any of the above could have done, but Iniesta’s stupendous strike against Chelsea in the dying embers of the 2009 Champions League semi-final cannot be rivalled. 

What did Barça need – a goal. Who scored it – Iniesta, and he produced a stunning 25-yard thunderbolt that took his side through to the final. A truly iconic moment. 


Samuel Eto’o

Barcelona´s Cameroonian forward Samuel E

If there was ever anyone you’d want to lead the line on the biggest of occasions, look no further than Samuel Eto’o – one of the greatest strikers of modern times. 

Not many players world-class players can say they’ve won the Champions League. Well, Eto’o is somewhat of an exception – he won it twice with Barça, scoring his side’s opening goal in both finals. 

Biggest Moment: It’s still painful to look back over the 2006 Champions League final if you’re an Arsenal fan

But, Eto’o was the man who brought the trophy to Spain. Not only did he win the foul that saw Arsenal go down to ten men, he also scored the equaliser to swing the tie back in Barça’s favour.


Ronaldinho

Ronaldinho

It is a sorry sight to see the career of Ronaldinho unravel in such a disappointing fashion. But, we can’t let his off-pitch misdemeanours tarnish our memory of the Brazilian world-beater in his prime. 

The twice FIFA World Player of the Year, and once Ballon d’Or winner was one of the greatest ever to pull on a Barça shirt. He produced countless moments of pure footballing genius, and propelled Barcelona back to the top of European football.

And, Ronaldinho was the world’s undisputed best during the 2005/06 campaign. There was the stunning solo goal to knock Chelsea out of the Champions League Round of 16. But, there’s one moment that stands out as his greatest big-game moment…

Biggest Moment: His performance against ?Real Madrid at the Bernabéu in 2005 remains one the greatest ever 90 minutes played. He was the chief-orchestrater in a 3-0 victory during which he scored two glorious goals. 

And, Real Madrid fans were compelled to applaud the brilliance of their rival’s star. Honestly, it’s near-impossible to get bored of watching the highlights reel of this one. 


Xavi Hernández

Xavi Hernandez

Xavi was undoubtedly the greatest central midfielder of his generation, and his presence in the Barça midfield as the side’s tiki-taka lynchpin was crucial for so much of the club’s recent success.

Perhaps his excellence went under the radar because of the consistent regularity of his excellent performances, but there were certain obvious moments of unparalleled quality. There was the assist in the 2009 Champions League final, there was the midfield-winning masterclass in the 2011 final and there were plenty more occasions where Xavi’s light shone brightest. 

Biggest Moment: Xavi’s greatest talent was his creativity. He loved an assist, a beautiful pass or an ostentatious one-two. And, arguably his greatest game ever came during Barça’s 6-2 victory over Real Madrid. Xavi played a pivotal role in such an emphatic victory – he laid on a remarkable four assists, and produced one of the iconic midfield displays. 


Lionel Messi

Barcelona's Lionel Messi (R) celebrates

There’s little point trying to explain the genius that is ?Lionel Messi at this point. Simply put – words lack the capacity to describe just how brilliant the Argentine international is. 

Given he’s the greatest footballer ever playing for one of the world’s most decorated sides, Messi has played a part in plenty of big games. And of course, there are just too many occasions during which he’s dominated proceedings while producing scintillatingly special performances. 

There’s been an unholy number of wonderful moments during El Clásico contests. There have been match-winning contributions with league titles, Champions League and domestic cup titles on the line. And, while any could be deemed Messi’s greatest moment, this is the one..

Biggest Moment: Barça won the Champions League in 2011. And, Messi was named man of the match in that final. But, it was during the semi-final against rivals Real Madrid that Messi produced one of the great goals. 

During the first leg in Madrid, Messi scored both goals, and his second is one that won’t be forgotten in a hurry. He dribbled past the entirety of the Madrid defence as he drove from the halfway line before slotting home. 

What a goal, what a player. 


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6 of the Best Moments of Diego Maradona’s Career

Diego Maradona is Number 1 in 90min’s Top 50 Greatest Players of All Time Series

It just had to be Diego Maradona at the top of this list. 

The Argentine was a unique talent who spent years mystifying defenders with his quick feet and outrageous dribbling, and to this day we have only seen a few players who have come close to matching his legacy.

You could probably list 1,000 of his greatest moments, but here are six which really stand out from the rest.


His Famous Nutmeg on His Debut


Maradona was just 15 years and 355 days old when he made his professional debut for Argentinos Juniors in 1976 – setting the record for the youngest player in Argentinian history – and he wasted little time making a name for himself.

Having been told by coach Juan Carlos Montes to ‘go out and nutmeg someone’, Maradona did exactly that. He slid the ball through defender Juan Cabrera’s legs with terrifying ease, pulling off a move which is still talked about in Argentina to this day.

It told you everything you needed to know about Maradona. He was better than you and he was going to make sure you knew it.?


Earning a Standing Ovation at the Bernabéu


Maradona’s spell with ?Barcelona often gets swept under the rug. Sure, it wasn’t as amazing as the rest of his career, but he still managed to become the first man to receive a standing ovation from ?Real Madrid fans at the Santiago Bernabéu.

In June 1983, Maradona scored the most Maradona goal you’re ever likely to see. Not only did he dribble the ball past the Real goalkeeper, but he then sat a retreating defender down on the turf for no reason whatsoever before tapping the ball into an empty net.

It was the defining moment of the game for Maradona, who left the field to a ludicrously rare standing ovation from Real fans – something they would not do until 22 years later with Ronaldinho. They didn’t want to, but Real recognised they were witnessing something special.


Scoring the Goal of the Century

In the quarter-final of the 1986 World Cup, Maradona bagged both of Argentina’s goals in a 2-1 win over England. Both those strikes would make the headlines, but for hugely differing reasons.

His second, which later became known as the ‘Goal of the Century’, saw Maradona pick the ball up in his own half, weave past the entire population of England (including goalkeeper Peter Shilton) before firing into an empty net. He was on a completely different level to the rest of the competition.

That goal came four minutes after a certain ‘header’ which sent shockwaves around the world. Yes, he may have used his hand, but it spoke volumes of his confidence that he even felt he could get away with it.


1986 World Cup Victory

Diego Maradona

It was an eventful tournament for Maradona. Not only had he already proven he was the best in the world, but he backed up his case even more by leading Argentina to World Cup glory. ?Lionel Messi could never.

Truthfully, it was a frustrating game for Maradona, who had Lothar Matthäus stuck to him for the whole 90 minutes. However, he needed just a second to make the difference, finding some space and executing a perfect pass to create Argentina’s late third in a 3-2 win over West Germany.

He was awarded the Golden Ball as a reward for being the best player at the tournament, and nobody had any complaints. He was now an undisputed legend.


Winning the Double With Napoli


In the 1980s in Italy, it was all about ?Juventus and ?AC Milan. No other team came close, but that was until Maradona took his talents to ?Napoli.

Fresh off the back of that World Cup triumph, Maradona led the Partenopei to an incredible league and cup double in 1987, including a stunning 15-game winning streak which saw the Argentine tear apart defence after defence.

Napoli fans held funerals for their rival clubs, announcing the dawn of a new era by painting murals of Maradona all over the city. His time was now.


Dominating AC Milan to Win Another Scudetto


The two Milan sides had regained control of Italian football in the late 80s, but Maradona wasn’t having it. He made sure the world knew who was the dominant force when his Napoli side met AC Milan in October 1989.

Maradona set up the first with a perfect cross, before a great free kick created the second, but it was his goal which stole the show. He raced through on goal, left the goalkeeper on his backside and chipped the ball perfectly into the net to seal a huge 3-0 win.

He went on to bag a brace in a 3-1 win over Juventus late in the season which effectively sealed Napoli’s second league title, and they wouldn’t have done it without Maradona.


For more from Tom Gott, follow him on Twitter!?


90min’s ‘Top 50 Greatest Footballers of All Time’ can be found here.

Number 50: Luka Modric 

Number 49: John Charles

Number 48: Hugo Sanchez

Number 47: Jairzinho

Number 46: Omar Sivori

Number 45: Paolo Rossi

Number 44: Paul Breitner

Number 43: George Weah

Number 42: Kaka

Number 41: Lev Yashin

Number 40: Gunnar Nordahl

Number 39: Kevin Keegan

Number 38: Hristo Stoichkov

Number 37: Gianluigi Buffon

Number 36: Johan Neeskens

Number 35: Xavi Hernandez

Number 34: Luis Suarez

Number 33: Karl-Heinz Rummenigge

Number 32: Andres Iniesta

Number 31: Rivelino

Number 30: Bobby Moore

Number 29: Socrates

Number 28: Sandor Kocsis

Number 27: Lothar Matthaus

Number 26: Ronaldinho

Number 25: Ruud Gullit

Number 24: Bobby Charlton

Number 23: Giuseppe Meazza

Number 22: Raymond Kopa

Number 21: Romario

Number 20: Eusebio

Number 19: Marco van Basten

Number 18: George Best

Number 17: Zico

Number 16: Franco Baresi

Number 15: Cristiano Ronaldo

Number 14: Ferenc Puskas

Number 13: Paolo Maldini

Number 12: Gerd Müller

Number 11: Mané Garrincha

Number 10: Alfredo Di Stefano

Number 9: Roberto Baggio

Number 8: Michel Platini

Number 7: Ronaldo

Number 6: Zinedine Zidane

Number 5: Johan Cruyff

Number 4: Franz Beckenbauer

Number 3: Lionel Messi

Number 2: Pele

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Barcelona Officials ‘Joking’ About Selling Ousmane Dembélé Amid Interest from Liverpool & Arsenal

French international ?Ousmane Dembélé looks set to depart Barcelona imminently, with Liverpool a possible destination for the winger.

Having arrived from Borussia Dortmund in 2017 for a mouth-watering initial fee of €105m, the 22-year-old has not played as well as the Blaugrana had hoped, with hamstring issues preventing him from playing regularly at Camp Nou.

As a result, Barça has been keen to offload the talented attacker, with many European clubs including Liverpool and Arsenal retaining an interest in signing him.

Ousmane Dembele

And Spanish publication AS (via ?Sport Witness) claim that executives at the Spanish club have even ‘joked’ about selling Dembélé. The paper reported that an anonymous club official has recently jokingly asked a club doctor when the French international would be fit again, so that he could be waved in front of potential buyers as soon as possible.

The attacker is estimated to be available for a fee of €80m, and the Reds should be able to get a deal done if they are still looking to sign him, with the Catalans clearly happy to swiftly get him off their books.

Dembélé is said to be keen on a move to the Premier League, which will give the Merseyside club an advantage in securing his signature over other suitors.

He made his senior debut at Rennes in November 2015, before securing a move to Dortmund in the following summer. But he only stayed for one year at Die Schwarzgelben before the Blaugrana came calling and edged out other clubs to sign him.

Ousmane Dembele,Nestor Araujo

Those at Camp Nou are now focusing on bringing in a star forward, with signing Inter’s Lautaro Martínez and ?bringing back Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain said to be the main priority for Barça this summer.

And with Liverpool looking to add attacking depth behind the likes of Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah, signing Dembélé could be a step towards evolving their bench options. 

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Barcelona Confirm Staff and Player Wages to Be Cut While Coronavirus Pandemic Continues

Barcelona have confirmed a ‘proportional reduction’ to the salaries of all staff at the club, while revenue streams continue to be hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The temporary halting of all top-level football across Europe is set to hit football with a financial crisis none could have predicted, and clubs of all shapes and sizes are ?bracing to be hit in the pocket. 

Even financial powerhouses like ?Barcelona are not exempt, as a ?statement from the club on Friday read:  “?The board of directors, at a remote meeting, have discussed the measures to be applied to minimise the economic impact that the coronavirus crisis is causing on the activity of FC Barcelona, as well as the actions that are being carried out by the club and the foundation to collaborate with the authorities, with the aim of avoiding the spread of the disease as much as possible.


“Among the measures adopted, those related to the workplace are motivated by the need to adapt the club’s contractual obligations with its staff to the new and temporary circumstances that we are experiencing. This involves the presentation of different cases concerning football and other professional sports, as well as for the other non-sporting personnel.

“These cases will be processed before the Government of Catalonia’s Ministry of Labour, once the club has shared all aspects related to these measures, and their scope, with all its staff, both sporting and non-sporting. 

“Basically this is a reduction of the working day, imposed by the circumstances and the protection measures carried out, and, as a consequence, the proportional reduction of the remuneration provided for in the respective contracts. 


“These are measures that the club wishes to implement in scrupulous observance of formal labour regulations, under the criteria of proportionality, and above all fairness, and with the sole objective of resuming the club’s activities as soon as possible.”

That’s a lot of words to basically say ‘we’re cutting wages’ but that’s the essence of it. There had been talk of a voluntary agreement between the club and players to cut their wages without hitting lower-paid workers at the club, but those negotiations appear to have fallen through. 

Barça sit two points clear at the top of ?La Liga, but it’s unclear when their title challenge will resume. 

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FIFA Propose Extending Expiring Contracts & Delaying Transfers to Finish Domestic Campaigns

Players looking to move when their contracts expire on 30 June will be made to stay at their current clubs until the season is completed, in proposals outlined in a new FIFA document.

The measures are part of the governing bodies plans to deal with the effects of the coronavirus on the football season. 

Extending the campaign beyond the end of June – when many players’ contracts run out – has been a subject of significant contention in discussions about how best to complete this term’s remaining fixtures.

FBL-EL SALVADOR-FIFA-INFANTINO

However, a new document presented to FIFA’s coronavirus working group, via The Ti?mes, says the crisis constitutes a “force majeure” – an unforeseen situation that can allow contracts to not be fulfilled. This also permits FIFA to introduce emergency powers such as restrictions on transfers until the season is complete. 

“This is an unprecedented time for football,” an extract from the document in which this plan is outlined begins. “It is very likely that any such completion will occur after the original end date of the season.” 

“Article 27 of the Regulations on the status and transfer of players (RSTP) states that cases of force majeure shall be decided by the Fifa council, whose decisions are final.”

“The proposals, the details of which were being discussed by Fifa’s high command today, have been drawn up by the organisation’s working group on Covid-19 and also recommends that clubs work with players and staff on deferred or reduced salaries ‘by reasonable amounts for any period of work stoppage’.”

Player contracts usually run from 1 July until 30 June, but FIFA argue that these dates are only chosen because they coincide with the football season. Therefore, ‘the true intention of all parties’ is to employ players for the duration of the campaign. 

These plans could even delay transfer that have already been agreed, such as Hakim Ziyech’s move to ?Chelsea. 

Some players who have agreed deals which included a significant pay rise could also stand to lose a significant amount of their earnings. Thus, FIFA’s decision seems likely to face a legal challenge.


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