Ansu Fati Signs New Barcelona Contract Until 2022 With €170m Release Clause

?Barcelona have announced that Ansu Fati has put pen to paper on fresh terms at Camp Nou, extending his current deal until the summer of 2022 – with a further option of two other years.

On top of that, the club confirmed that a bumper new release clause has been set at €170m, a €70m increase on his previous such clause.

The youngster has enjoyed a meterioc rise this season since breaking into Barça’s first team, netting twice in La Liga despite only just turning 17 in late October.


Since making his debut, Fati became the youngest ?Barça player to ever score a league goal when he was just 16 years and 304 days old, while he also smashed club records in becoming the youngest player to start a match at Camp Nou or make a Champions League appearance.

As revealed on the club’s ?official website, Fati expressed his joy at extending his future in Spain beyond his previous contract.

“For me, La Masia is the best school in the world,” he said. “They helped me from the first day I arrived and I am extremely grateful to everyone who works there.

“They are all spectacular. From the first day I have learned things from everyone. And they have also been there to support me through difficult times.

Anssumane Fati

“Working every day with the best is a dream, and also a reward. From now onwards, what I have to do is keep working, even harder than ever, to keep getting chances and carry on enjoying myself. The rest will come after.”

Born in Guinea-Bissau, Fati represents Spain internationally after moving to Seville aged just six, where he played for Sevilla youth sides before Barcelona snapped the talented youngster up and he joined the club’s famed La Masia academy. 

To date, he has turned out for the club 11 times across all competitions, netting twice and registering one assist.

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Ivan Rakitic Open to Sevilla or Atlético Madrid Move in January Amid Game Time Concerns

?Barcelona outcast Ivan Rakitic claims he hopes to return to former club Sevilla in the future, but his current wishes are to stay at Barcelona, despite a significant lack of game time.

The midfielder has been linked with a move to Atlético Madrid in January, after receiving just two starts in La Liga since the arrival of Frankie de Jong in the Summer.

Ernesto Valverde

However, the 31-year-old has made it clear that he will fight for his place in Ernesto Valverde’s squad, claiming that there is no ‘better place’ than ?Barcelona.

“You never know, my idea is to continue,” he said at the DEX Awards, as quoted by Spanish newspaper ?AS. “What I want is to play and enjoy my football. I still have a lot to give and if I can play, for me there is no better place than Barcelona right now.”

When asked about a possible move to the Spanish capital he admitted: “These are things that only time will tell. ?Atlético are a great club, who have showed everyone they fight for titles. I want to fight for everything and to help my teammates, but if that can be at Barcelona then there is no better place.”

However, the Croatian international was more open about his return to Sevilla, stating that he would love to rejoin his former club when the timing is right.

FBL-EUR-C3-BENFICA-SEVILLA

“We’ll see, if the time comes to be able to speak to them then everybody knows that I would be delighted.

“If I ever was to return to a club then it would be Sevilla, hopefully this can happen one day but above all, I’m glad to see how the club is growing, their results. Sevilla are better every year.

“From afar, that fills me with pride and happiness. My dream would be to wear the Sevilla shirt once again.”

Since losing his place in the first team, ?Rakitic has also sparked interest from clubs such as Manchester United and Inter Milan.

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Gerard Pique Hits Back at Claims That Davis Cup Involvement Is Affecting His Barcelona Form

?Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has hit back at accusations that his involvement with tennis’ Davis Cup has forced his attention away from football.

The 32-year-old’s investment company has committed to revamping the event over the next 25 years, and critics have suggested that the Spaniard’s involvement with it have caused him to become distracted, leading to a bed spell of form for the centre-back over recent matches.

FBL-ESP-LIGA-ATLETICO-BARCELONA

However, at the Catalan Football Federation awards gala, ?Pique defended himself as he picked up the award for best player of the year, claiming that his priorities still lie firmly with football.

“I didn’t think I could make it, I thought I wouldn’t arrive, so sorry for how I’m dressed. The truth is that Riqui Puig has outdone me today.” he said during the ceremony, as quoted by Spanish newspaper ?Sport. “I’m proud of getting the award and I thank the team-mates, the club, without them I would not be what I am and I hope that it’s a successful year.

“My priority is football, football, football. Are the directors of the newspapers here? Because lately the truth is that they love me a lot. It seems I can be distracted by the Davis Cup but this prize is for all the work from last year and this year will be the same.

“Things can go better or worse, but I think that I have shown that the love for the shirt is sacred and will be until the day I retire. If we win lots of titles, I’m sure that those who write will stop saying we’re distracted.”

Club Atletico de Madrid v FC Barcelona  - La Liga

Pique remains a crucial part of Ernesto Valverde’s plans in the first team, despite being in the latter stages of his career, starting 13 out of a possible 14 La Liga games this season.

However, during ?Barcelona’s 1-0 win over ?Atletico Madrid at the weekend, the Spaniard was replaced by Samuel Umtiti in the late stages of the game, as ?Lionel Messi went on to score the winning goal for La Blaugrana.

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Juventus Claim They Don’t Want Ivan Rakitic as Barcelona Midfielder Hints at Exit

?Juventus chief Fabio Paratici has claimed that his side are not interested in Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic, with the midfielder also revealing that he may look for a move away from the club.

The Croatian has been with Barça for five and half years, but has fallen out of favour as he struggles to get into a competitive midfield including Frenkie De Jong among.

Ivan Rakitic

The 31-year-old has been a divisive figure among fans of the La Liga champions, but ?Juve‘s Paratici has now revealed that they won’t be one of the sides who fights it out for his signature.

Via ?ESPN, he said: “We have a great team and are not looking for reinforcement right now. We are strong in every position. ?Rakitic is a great player but we are not interested.”

These quotes came just days before Rakitic himself said he may be interested in a move away from the club as he goes in search of regular game time.

Ivan Rakitic

“I do not understand the situation because I want to play. If I can play, there is no better place than Barça,” he said as quoted by ?Marca. “I want to enjoy every day and if it can be here, much better.

“I said that the ball had been taken from me to imply how much I like football. What I want to do is enjoy, doing my best because I still have a lot to give.

“I have the confidence of my teammates and if the coach puts me in, I understand that it will also be like that.”

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How Every Country Voted in the 2019 Ballon d’Or – Including Some Bizarre Choices

?Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi won a record sixth Ballon d’Or on Monday evening, scooping the prestigious individual prize ahead of Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk, long time rival Cristiano Ronaldo, and Liverpool forwards Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.

The award is presented by France Football, but decided by the votes of a designated journalist from each country around the world. And when the dust of the winner’s announcement has settled, one of the things people always look to is how the voting shaped up.

COMBO-FILES-FBL-FRA-BALLON-2019

So, who voted for who? Where was the Ballon d’Or won and lost? Because this year was incredibly close, with Messi accumulating 686 points and Van Dijk finishing on 679.

Each naming a top five from the 30 nominees, the representative journalist from most countries went with either Messi or Van Dijk as their top choice. A few went with Ronaldo as number one, while Mane and Salah also got top spots from a selection of nations, including their own.

Messi was number one for Argentina’s Enrique Wolff of ESPN, while Van Dijk got the Dutch vote from Voetbal International’s Frans van den Nieuwenhof. There was no geographical rivalry bias from Brazil’s Cleber Machado, who voted for Messi as his number one.


Germany’s Karl-Heinz Wild from Kicker actually opted for Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski, presumably having been wowed by the Pole’s goalscoring feats. Mane was second in his list, with Messi fifth and no Ronaldo or Salah at all.

England’s Henry Winter went for a top three of Van Dijk, Messi and Ronaldo, giving Raheem Sterling a nod in fourth and picking Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker in fifth.

Alisson was actually number one choice for the journalists in Ivory Coast and Guatemala.

Alisson Becker

Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva, Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez all featured in a few top fives. Eden Hazard also got a few votes, placing as a high as second in Kazakhstan’s list.

Roberto Firmino featured in top fives here and there, so did Antoine Griezmann, Dusan Tadic and Son Heung-min – Son was only fifth in the vote from South Korea’s Wee Won-seok.

Frenkie de Jong was a second choice from Italy’s Paolo Condo of Sky Italia and Gazzetta dello Sport, as well as featuring in the top fives submitted by Iran, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Cyprus, Turkmenistan and others. Kylian Mbappe was also a relatively frequent top five vote, but he was top choice for Kyrgyzstan and Slovenia, and second for Mozambique, Eritrea and Chad.

There is usually at least one country whose vote is considered rather bizarre. In 2019, that is Sri Lanka for whom votes were cast by Hafiz Marikar of Daily News. Liverpool full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold was their top pick, followed by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – who wasn’t even voted for by his own country – Griezmann, Lewandowski and Marc-Andre ter Stegen. Is there a chance Mr Marikar picked alphabetically?

Trent Alexander-Arnold

That wasn’t the only vote for Alexander-Arnold, though, with Cameroon’s Gustave Samnick and Singapore’s Tan Kim Han putting him fifth in their respective votes.


For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!

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Creating a Ballon d’Or for Defenders & Deciding Who Would Have Won it

?It’s been a remarkable year for Virgil van Dijk, putting in arguably the best defensive displays in these 12 months this century (and when you see the state of football before that, probably all time).

There was certainly momentum that wasn’t far short of a campaign for him to scoop either of FIFA’s The Best award or the Ballon d’Or.

Unfortunately for him, ?football is above giving awards to defenders, and Lionel Messi won both instead. Good. Justice has been served.

But that got us thinking – if defenders are so unlikely to win major awards, shouldn’t they have some kind of Yachine Trophy of their own? 90min looks back through the archives and looks at who would be on the podium for such an award.


2007 – John Terry

1 –  John Terry (Chelsea & England)

2 – Alessandro Nesta (Milan & Italy)

3 – Paulo Maldini (Milan & Italy)

John Terry

By this point a double Premier League champion, it was hard to argue that John Terry wasn’t the best defender in the world while in his prime. 

Despite missing out to Manchester United in Chelsea’s quest for a third successive title, he still managed to win the FA Cup and League Cup.

The Blues conceded just 24 Premier League goals in the 2006/07 season to boot, and were also denied a spot in the Champions League final on penalties against Liverpool.


2008 – Nemanja Vidic

1 – Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United & Serbia)

2 – John Terry (Chelsea & England)

3 – Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United & England)

Manchester United's Serbian player Neman

Rivalling Terry for that late-2000s ‘best bastard’ mantra were the duo at Manchester United, but Rio Ferdinand was definitively inferior to his compatriot, so the remaining challenger was Nemanja Vidic.

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After winning a Premier League and Champions League double, the Serbian was becoming well-renowned for his no-nonsense style, as United powered there way through England and Europe in 2008.


2009 – Dani Alves

1 – Dani Alves (Barcelona & Brazil)

2 – Carles Puyol (Barcelona & Spain)

3 – Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United & Serbia)

Barcelona´s Brazilian defender Dani Alve

The first defender on? this list who’s not really a defender, but hey, that’s the way football’s been going. Attacking is defending, go figure.

People knew about how good Dani Alves was at Sevilla, but his transfer to Barcelona at the start of the 2008/09 season propelled him to superstardom – the finest right-back of his generation had arrived.


2010 – Lucio

1 – Lucio (Inter & Brazil)

2 – Maicon (Inter & Brazil)

3 – Carles Puyol (Barcelona & Spain)

Lucio

The clamour for Spain and Barca’s centre-back partnership of Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique? was in full swing in 2010, but Lucio’s prominence as Inter’s best defender in the Champions League-winning campaign is too hard to ignore.

A shoutout should go to Maicon, whose perception of just how good he was went up in flames as soon as he met Gareth Bale that year, while Carles Puyol was the commanding figure at the heart of Spain’s first World Cup triumph.


2011 – Eric Abidal

1 – Eric Abidal (Barcelona & France)

2 – Dani Alves (Barcelona & Brazil)

3 – Thiago Silva (Milan & Brazil)

Barcelona's French defender Eric Abidal

Playing 41 games for the best team of the world and possibly all time when you’ve had a liver transplant to beat cancer? This isn’t sentiment, this is recognising an absolutely astonishing achievement. Nothing more needs to be said.


2012 – Sergio Ramos

1 – Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid & Spain)

2 – Philipp Lahm (Bayern & Germany)

3 – Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus & Italy)

Spanish defender Sergio Ramos poses with

His first whole year as a? full-time centre-back, Sergio Ramos stepped up and proved to be one of the world’s finest footballers – just ignore that hilarious penalty vs Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

Jose Mourinho had found his man to lead the defence, to play on the front foot where possible and organise a lower block when needed. Alongside club rival Gerard Pique, a formidable partnership was formed as Spain romped their way to another European Championship.


2013 – Philipp Lahm

1 – Philipp Lahm (Bayern & Germany)

2 – Jerome Boateng (Bayern & Germany)

3 – David Alaba (Bayern & Austria)

Philipp Lahm

?After finishing as runners-up in three competitions in 2012, Bayern and Philipp Lahm stepped up to win it all the following year. As captain, Lahm led his side to an unprecedented German football treble.

Jupp Heynckes’ side may be the most underrated of their era considering how dominant their 2012/13 season was, and Lahm’s influence is often lost among football’s modern full-backs.


2014 – Diego Godin

1 – Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid & Uruguay)

2 – Jerome Boateng (Bayern & Germany)

3 – Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid & Spain)

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?Welcome to the world stage, Atletico Madrid. Diego Godin was the on-pitch embodiment of manager Diego Simeone, as Atleti leapfrogged Real Madrid and Barcelona to win La Liga.

If not for Sergio Ramos, he would’ve scored the goal to win Los Rojiblancos their first European Cup. Alas, history has been written in permanent ink. Tough luck, Diego.


2015 – Giorgio Chiellini

1 – Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus & Italy)

2 – Gerard Pique (Barcelona & Spain)

3 – Dani Alves (Barcelona & Brazil)

FBL-EUR-C1-JUVENTUS-REALMADRID

Everyone knew how good Juventus were in Serie A by 2015, but prior to this year, they hadn’t established themselves as one of Europe’s big boys again. Under Max Allegri’s management, Chiellini took a huge leap to become the world’s best defender. 

They were unfortunate to fall to Barcelona’s three-headed MSN snake in the Champions League final, but they managed to blunt Cristiano Ronaldo and co. along the way – a great feat that’s only second to being ?likened to Rocky Balboa.


2016 – Pepe

1 – Pepe (Real Madrid & Portugal)

2 – Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid & Uruguay)

3 – Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus & Italy)

UEFA Champions League final - "Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid"

Sergio Ramos has grabbed most of Real Madrid’s headlines from defence this decade, and it’s left his reliable partner in crime Pepe without the attention he deserves.

Known generally for ?being a hothead, the Portuguese defender put in some phenomenal displays to win both the Champions League and Euros in the same summer. Please respect him.


2017 – Marcelo

1 – Marcelo (Real Madrid & Brazil)

2 – Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus/Milan & Italy)

3 – Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham Hotspur & Belgium)

Marcelo

Marcelo > Roberto Carlos, and 2017 confirmed it. 

The displays ?he put it in that year were unlike any we’ve ever seen from a full-back, constantly beating his man, constantly causing havoc, constantly positioning himself so high that there was rarely a need to defend.

A real shame for the other two podium-finishers, whose displays as actual defenders were a cut above the rest. But hey, they can go make their own award.


2018 – Raphael Varane

1 – Raphael Varane (Real Madrid & France)

2 – Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool & Netherlands)

3 – Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid & Spain)

Raphael Varane

Raphael Varane looked like a solid defender ever since breaking into Real Madrid’s team as a teenager, but it wasn’t until 2018 that you could say that he had made the jump to become the best in his role – after all, Ramos and Pepe would have already won this award by then.?

The European and World Cups secured in the summer, he even had a semi-decent shout of winning the actual Ballon d’Or, but he’ll have to settle for our work of fiction instead.


2019 – Virgil van Dijk

1 – Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool & Netherlands)

2 – Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool & England)

3 – Andy Robertson (Liverpool & Scotland)

UEFA Champions League"Tottenham Hotspur FC v Liverpool FC"

Virgil. Trent. Andy.

In that order.

Get the flag printed, Reds.?


For more from Sean Walsh, follow him on Twitter!

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Twitter Goes Into Meltdown as Messi Wins 2019 Ballon d’Or, Van Dijk Is Snubbed & Ronaldo No-Shows

?Lionel Messi won the Ballon d’Or for the sixth time in his career, but it was the good folks of Twitter who provided the evening’s entertainment.

Of course, there were those who only wanted to wish the Argentine well after his record-breaking win…

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??It’s clear a loooottttt of people agreed with the decision…

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There are many ways to praise the GOAT, yet it was BT Sport who summed things up…

Yes, we are truly blessed to watch Messi in action. Well, many of us are blessed, but not everyone enjoyed seeing him scoop the Ballon d’Or…

It seems Messi has as many supporters as he does haters…

Although, Cristiano Ronaldo appears to have even more haters…

And what about Virgil van Dijk? No one could hate the colossal Dutchman – just look at his smile…

Well, maybe he has one…

James Milner is only upset because he’s not one of the seven Liverpool players who made the shortlist…

However, even the Reds’ leading man had to admit he’d lost to the better footballer…

Congratulations, Lord Lionel, you’re the GOAT of GOATs. The best of the best. The cream of the crop. The creme de la…ah you get the picture. 


For more from Ed Alexander, follow him on Twitter

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Ballon d’Or 2019: Full Golden Ball Rankings as Lionel Messi Scoops Award

Lionel Messi has only gone and won his sixth Ballon d’Or, the most of any player in the history of football.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to claim the Argentine is not the greatest footballer of all time, with his phenomenal stats in 2019 proving his is worthy of this year’s Golden Ball. In 54 appearances for club and country, the little magician has scored 46 goals and grabbed 17 assists, despite struggling with injuries.

Virgil Van Dijk

Those figures mean Messi beats Liverpool superstar Virgil van Dijk to the big prize, while Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo has lost another battle with his foe, the Portuguese coming third in the rankings.

Van Dijk is joined by several Reds teammates towards the top of the list, as Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Alisson all make the top seven.

Manchester City duo Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez finished ninth and tenth, respectively, with fellow Sky Blues representatives Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne also featuring.

The later pair sandwich either Real Madrid’s Eden Hazard, while other places in the top 20 were claimed by Matthijs de Ligt, Sergio Aguero, Roberto Firmino, Antoine Griezmann, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who shared the Premier League Golden Boot with 22 goals.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Incredibly, Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris features above Barcelona stopper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, while 2019 Golden Boot winner Joao Felix, now playing for Atletico Madrid, ties in 28th place with Marquinhos and Donny van de Beek.

We’ll be updating with results as they come – so hang with us!

Ranking
Player
?1 ?Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
?2 ?Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)
?3 ?Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)
?4 ?Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
?5 ?Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
?6 Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)
?7 ?Alisson (Liverpool)
?8 ?Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)
?9 ?Bernardo Silva (Man City)
?10 ?Riyad Mahrez (Man City)
?11 ?Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona)
?12 ?Raheem Sterling (Man City)
?13 ?Eden Hazard (Real Madrid)
?14 ?Kevin De Bruyne (Man City)
?15 ?Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus)
?16  Sergio Aguero (Man City)
?17  ?Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)
?18 ?Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid)
?19 ?Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
?20 = ?Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)
Dusan Tadic (Ajax)
?22 Son Heung-min? (Tottenham)
?23 ?Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)
?24 = ?Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona)
Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli)
?26 = ?Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
Gini Wijnaldum (Liverpool)
?28 = ?Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid)
Marquinhos (PSG)
Donny van de Beek (Ajax)

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Ballon d’Or 2019: Barcelona’s Lionel Messi Wins Record Breaking 6th Golden Ball Award

?Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has won the Ballon d’Or for a record breaking sixth time after an astonishing 2019 for the GOAT. 

The Argentine has been in phenomenal form since returning from injury in September, scoring 11 times and grabbing eight assists for La Blaugrana. He was equally influential for Ernesto Valverde’s men last term, with Messi’s 73 goal-involvements during 2018/19 helping Barça to a fourth La Liga title in five years.

Club Atletico de Madrid v FC Barcelona  - La Liga

Though Virgil van Dijk has been a colossal figure in ?Liverpool’s backline, both he and Cristiano Ronaldo were overlooked by voters, the pair finishing second and third in the standings respectively.

Fellow Reds stars Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah placed fourth and fifth, whilse the side’s goalkeeper Alisson came in seventh, having won the Yachine Trophy earlier in the evening.

Messi and Ronaldo were the only two players to win the Ballon d’Or between 2008 and 2017, but Luka Modric’s immaculate displays for ?Real Madrid and Croatia saw him clinch the award last year.


There have been several unforgettable moments for the South American this calendar year, including scoring his 600th goal for Barcelona with a mesmerising free-kick in the first leg of the club’s ?Champions League semi final meeting with Liverpool.

His glorious chipped goal versus Real Betis in March saw Messi named as runner-up in the FIFA Puskas Award, though no one was able to stop him winning the Best Male Player prize at the ceremony in Milan.


For more from Ed Alexander, follow him on Twitter

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Twitter Reacts as Lionel Messi Strikes Late to Sink Atletico Madrid

?It’s almost as if he knows it’s Ballon d’Or season. 

??Lionel Messi has now hit a ridiculous nine goals in his last six La Liga games, after coming up trumps for ?Barcelona once again to see off Atletico Madrid at Wanda Metropolitano on Sunday night.


It was far from the best game you’ll see this season, with ?Atletico getting the better of the first half and Barça edging the second, but there wasn’t much to separate the two as the game entered the dying stages.

Well… there was Messi. 




The Argentine number ten, seeing the scores still level in the final five minutes, drove forward into the Atleti half, and played a one-two with his partner in crime Luis Suarez.

Receiving the return ball on the edge of the area, the little magician stroked a deft effort beyond the despairing Jan Oblak, sparking scenes of jubilation in the visiting ranks as they returned to the top of the division ahead of Real Madrid – who had beaten Alaves on Saturday. 



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The win was ground-out by Barça, and wasn’t without its controversy. Plenty of on-lookers felt Gerard Pique merited a second booking. 

The central defender was earlier booked for a rugby tackle on Joao Felix, and walked the tight-rope throughout the second half, some feeling he was given an easier ride by officials since he was already on a booking.




??Messi was the goalscorer, but there was another man fans felt were an unsung hero.


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??Ultimately, the win sends Barcelona back to the top of La Liga despite a testing start to the season. Not bad for a club in crisis. 




For more from Robbie Copeland, follow him on Twitter!

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