Barcelona Close to Reaching Agreement to Sign Valencia Striker Rodrigo

Barcelona are closing in on striker Rodrigo after Valencia president Anil Murthy travelled to Catalonia in an attempt to thrash out a deal. ?

The Valencia chief is on the verge of negotiating a loan move that would see the Spain international Rodrigo head to Camp Nou before the transfer deadline. 

Rodrigo Moreno

However, it is a deal that has proved problematic, and Murthy is determined that Valencia are granted their wish of agreeing that Barça’s offer includes a compulsory option to buy the 28-year-old.

According to Sport, the deal is finely balanced and has reached crunch time with regards to the two clubs coming to an agreement. 

Negotiations were thought to have come to a standstill last week, with Valencia having initially batted away several approaches from ?Barcelona for Rodrigo. 

But reports now say that Los Che have re-entered discussions with La Liga’s champions.

Rodrigo

It is thought that Barca tried to sweeten any proposed deal with the offer of defender Moussa Wagué and 19-year-old striker Abel Ruiz, two players deemed surplus to requirement by new coach Quique Setién.

However, neither of the players mentioned appeared to appease Valencia, and they are only interested in striking up a cash deal.

They are holding out for €60m and the guarantee that Rodrigo will join on a permanent basis in the summer, as reported by ?superdeporte.es.

Rodrigo would become Setién’s first signing since replacing Ernesto Valverde at the helm less than two weeks ago. 

Quique Setien

Valencia inflicted the first defeat of Setién’s Barcelona reign on Saturday, as a Maxi Gómez strike and a Jordi Alba own goal saw the hosts to a 2-0 win at Mestalla.

As for the man of the hour, Rodrigo was resigned to a place on the bench but did replace French forward Kévin Gameiro on the hour mark in what could have been his last game for the club.

Either way, it’s clear that losing Luis Suarez being sidelined for four months with a knee injury has forced Barcelona into the ?transfer market for a striker.

Kevin Gameiro,Rodrigo

Rodrigo hasn’t exactly been prolific this season, only scoring twice in the league so far.

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?Where Are They Now? The 20 Youngsters ‘Backed by Messi’ in 2015/16 to Become Future Stars

In 2015 and 2016, 10 young talents in each year were ‘Backed by Messi’ as part of an adidas campaign.

The Barcelona and Argentina superstar Lionel Messi endorsed the up and coming starlets as part of ‘Team Messi’, giving them his own custom boots, while encouraging fans around the world to follow their progress.

But what has become of those 20 players in the years four to five years since? How many have made good on their early potential and where are they now?

Well, it’s a mixed bag…


Season 1 (2015)


Kenedy (Chelsea & Brazil): Joined Chelsea from Fluminense and currently on loan at Getafe – his fourth loan away from Stamford Bridge after spells at Watford and Newcastle (twice).

Maxwell Cornet (Lyon & France): Still with Lyon and has gone on to play over 200 games for the club. Also a full Ivory Coast international after switching allegiance back to his homeland.

FBL-FRA-LIGUE1-LYON-TOULOUSE

Jeremie Boga (Rennes/Chelsea & France): The two-time FA Youth Cup winner only played once for Chelsea’s first-team and joined Sassuolo on a permanent transfer in 2018.

Accursio Bentivegna (Como/Palermo & Italy): Currently with Carravese in Serie C, following an initial loan, after leaving Palermo on a permanent deal in 2018.

James Wilson (Manchester United & England): The striker shocked the world with two goals on his debut in 2014. Now, however, he is with Aberdeen after being released in 2019.

Timo Werner (Stuttgart & Germany): Poached by RB Leipzig following promotion to the Bundesliga in 2016 and has become one of Europe’s top strikers – currently Bundesliga top scorer.

Timo Werner

Aleksey Miranchuk (Lokomotiv Moscow & Russia): Remains with Lokomotiv Moscow and has played over 200 games for the club. Also a regular pick for Russia and went to 2018 World Cup.

Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy & USA): Famed for his role in ‘The Journey’ in FIFA 18, the 28-year-old has since left LA Galaxy but stayed in MLS to join Columbus Crew.

Marcos Lopes (Monaco & Portugal): Better known these days as ‘Rony’. Enjoyed a breakout season at Monaco in 2017/18 after impressing on loan at Lille, but now struggling at Sevilla.

Khiry Shelton (New York City & USA): Went from NYC to Sporting Kansas City, before trying his luck with German club Paderborn. Now back in Kansas City for the 2020 MLS season.


Season 2 (2016)


Chanathip Songkrasin (Muangthong United & Thailand): Currently flying the flag for Thai football in Japan after joining J1 side Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo permanently in 2019.

Chanathip Songkrasin

Kasper Dolberg (Ajax & Denmark): Broke into the Ajax first-team in 2016 and enjoyed a strong debut season. He bounced back from a downturn, before Nice paid €20.5m for him in 2019.

Gabriel Boschilia (Monaco & Brazil): Played an impressive small role as Monaco won Ligue 1 in 2016/17. Remains with the club but has failed to kick on since returning from a loan at Nantes.

Kekuta Manneh (Vancouver Whitecaps & Gambia): Has played only sparingly in recent years, despite a strong 2015 MLS season in Vancouver. Now with FC Cincinnati ahead of 2020.

Nadya Karpova (Chertanovo & Russia): The only female player in the selection, the forward left Russia for Spain in 2017 and now plays for Sevilla after a spell with Valencia.

Alex Muyl (New York Red Bulls & USA): Remains with New York Red Bulls and has played over 130 times for the club, but the 2019 season saw the winger lose his place.

Alex Muyl,Russell Canouse

Nathan (Vitesse Arnhem/Chelsea & Brazil): One of the many talents contracted at Chelsea that has never played for the club. Currently on loan at Atletico Mineiro in Brazil until summer.

Davide Calabria (Milan & Italy): Still with Milan but has returned to being a fringe player after injury ended a promising 2018/19 season early. Capped by Italy up to Under-21 level.#

Jean-Kevin Augustin (Paris Saint-Germain & France): ?Has just joined Championship side Leeds on a loan deal from RB Leipzig, where early promise after his 2017 move faded.

Patrick Roberts (Celtic/Manchester City & England): Now at his fourth different loan club from Manchester City in the form of Middlesbrough after hardly featuring for Norwich.


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

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Roma Putting Finishing Touches On €13m Deal for Barcelona Youngster Carles Perez

?Carles Perez will complete his €13m move from Barcelona to Roma in the coming days after the Blaugrana agreed not to include a buy-back clause in the deal.

The sides had been in deadlock as they negotiated the 21-year-old’s proposed transfer to Italy, with the Giallorossi unwilling to insert such a clause. Barça ultimately dropped their demands, thereby breathing new life into the deal, which should be wrapped up by Tuesday evening.

Carles Perez

Speaking via ?Twitter, Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano revealed Perez’s seven-year stay with ?Barcelona will come to an end this week, despite concerns that his move to Rome was on the brink of collapse.

?Recent comments from Giallorossi sporting director Gianluca Petrachi appear to support Romano’s claim. He said: “We continue with our philosophy, investing in young talented players. The negotiations [for Pérez] are at an advanced stage. 

“We have an excellent relationship with Barcelona, and we are talking to the player. Obviously, we need to convince him we have the right sports project here for him. I never say that anything is complete until it is all signed, but I’m optimistic. 

“Roma are nobody’s feeder club, so if anyone comes here they will be a Roma player. There will be no repurchase option.”

Paulo Fonseca

Barça’s eagerness to include a buy-back clause was evidently the only thing holding up progress, and now that has been resolved, Roma can begin putting the finishing touches on the transfer.

Perez’s departure is unlikely to have a major impact at Camp Nou, the youngster making only eight starts for the club this term. He collected three goals and as many assists in that period, with La Bluagrana’s attacking talent making game time hard to come by.

He leaves the team in second position in ?La Liga following the 2-0 loss at Valencia over the weekend, while his soon-to-be new employers occupy the final ?Champions League-qualification place in ?Serie A.


For more from Ed Alexander, follow him on Twitter

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The Bulls**t-O-Meter: Ranking How Ridiculous This Week’s Transfer Rumours Really Are

Ah, transfer rumours. Simultaneously the best friend and worst enemy of the football writer. 

In truth, we rarely know if they’re true or not; but it rarely matters. All that matters is they exist, and for better or worse, they give us all something to talk about. 

But while we can’t say with absolute certainty whether Kylian Mbappé is going to ?Liverpool or if Manchester United are going to finally get their act together in the transfer market, we can have an educated guess, thanks to the cutting-edge technology here at 90min. Think of it as rumour VAR.

Yes, less than two weeks since ?its last outing, the famous Bulls**t-o-Meter is back to run the rule over everything that has come to light in the last week or so. 


Steven Bergwijn

Dutch Eredivisie"Training PSV Eindhoven"

?Linked Clubs: Tottenham

One that has really only come to light over the weekend, the Dutch wonder-kid fast becoming a wonder-man is r?eported in his native Netherlands to be verging on a January move to Spurs. 

There’s little to say this one won’t happen; except perhaps the sheer speed at which it has emerged from nothingness. He’s affordable (even for Tottenham) and long overdue a move away from PSV, where even his extraordinary goal and assist numbers have been unable to drag them into a title challenge this season. 

Even PSV coach Ernest Fabian has admitted the player is in talks over a move away; this one looks, for all the world, as if it’s happening. 

Possibility of Future Transfer: Nailed On

Likelihood of January Move: Very Strong

BULLS**T-O-METER RATING: 1/10


Olivier Giroud

Olivier Giroud

Linked Clubs: Aston Villa, Barcelona, Inter

Giroud’s January move to Chelsea in 2018 was perhaps the most January transfer in the history of January transfers. Some say it even invented the January transfer window; that theory defies all logic and reason, but so too does the basic concept of Olivier Giroud, so who knows?

Anyway, a whole smattering of clubs ranging from Premier League relegation strugglers to the champions of Spain are said to be in the running. He looks a sensible short-term addition for literally any of them, and he certainly doesn’t look to have a future at Chelsea. 

There is of course plenty of lazy, ill-informed reporting on his situation doing the rounds, but at the core of it all you would imagine there is no shortage of truth in the widespread interest. 

Possibility of Future Transfer: Highly Likely

Likelihood of January Move: Moderate

BULLSH**T-O-METER RATING: 3/10


James Rodriguez

James Rodriguez

?Linked Clubs: Arsenal, Everton

James Rodriguez’s once-unbounded potential has buckled under injury in recent years, and now he sits unfancied at Real Madrid; who are now prepared to sell him for around half of what they paid to acquire him back in 2014. 

However, he remains a favourite of Carlo Ancelotti – the man who initially brought him to Madrid – so with the Italian’s arrival at Everton came plenty talk about a hugely-ambitious and ostensibly far-fetched move to Goodison Park for the Colombian. 

Arsenal are also said to be in the frame, and while neither can be disproved, it’s one of those that would have to be seen to be believed. 

Possibility of Future Transfer: Nailed On

Likelihood of January Move: Low to Moderate

BULLSH**T-O-METER RATING: 5/10


Philippe Coutinho?

Philippe Coutinho ,

?Linked Clubs: Arsenal, Liverpool

Jesus, now we’re getting into it. The Brazilian’s stock has fallen steadily ever since his controversial departure from Anfield, and even a loan spell to Bayern Munich – which initially promised much – has failed to stop the rot.

His parent club don’t want him and his current suitors don’t want him, so his future looks very much in limbo. A return to the Premier League has been subject to much discussion over the last week or so, although it seems highly unlikely that will be back to Liverpool – a rumour that continues to persist despite it making absolutely no sense whatsoever given how the Reds have evolved since his departure. 

A January move is of course a near-impossibility, but a summer switch to the likes of Arsenal isn’t quite out of the picture. 

Still, you get the sense that very little of the speculation here is thoroughly-researched – or researched at all. 

Possibility of Future Transfer: Probably

Likelihood of January Move: Non-existent

BULLSH**T-O-METER RATING: 7/10


Dimitri Payet

FRA-LIGUE1-RENNES-MARSEILLE

?Linked Clubs: West Ham

“Wait, what?” 

– you, just there, probably. 

Yes, it seems the man who left West Ham shrouded in controversy in 2017, because he didn’t want to play in the ‘lower reaches’ of the Premier League, is being linked with a return to West Ham, who currently reside in the ‘lower reaches’ of the Premier League. 

That’s despite the fact he’s currently 32, and very much enjoying his football in France’s second-best team – a team whose chairman recently said he won’t entertain any offers for players this month unless it simply ‘cannot be refused’.  

Everything about this one screams ‘absolutely not.’

Possibility of Future Transfer: Lukewarm

Likelihood of January Move: ffs no

BULLSH**T-O-METER RATING: 8/10


Sergio Agúero

Sergio Aguero

Linked Clubs: Inter Miami

What’s that overbearing stench that seems to have taken over the room? Oh, it’s just this stinking, festering turd of a transfer rumour. Nothing to see here. 

Believe it or not, yes, this is a ?thing that is being reported. Sergio Agúero, the same Sergio Agúero showing absolutely no signs of slowing down with 21 goals in 23 appearances this season, is apparently heading to MLS.

Even allowing for the unlikely event that he is to leave City this summer (he has 18 months left on his deal and is playing at the very top of his game, so go figure) why on earth would he be heading to wind down in MLS? In this unlikely hypothetical universe there is a queue encompassing several blocks for his signature, and that’s just the major European clubs in contention. 

David Silva? That’s another matter – he’s three years further along in his development and his departure has been announced a year in advance. 

Agúero though? Come on, try harder.

Possibility of Future Transfer: Reasonable

Likelihood of January Move: Behave

BULLSH**T-O-METER RATING: 10/10


For more from Robbie Copeland, follow him on Twitter!

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Twitter Reacts as Vibrant Valencia Seal Deserved Win Over Deflated Barcelona

Barcelona fell to a costly defeat in their pursuit of the La Liga title at the Mestalla, as they lost 2-0 to Valencia on Saturday afternoon.

Barcelona travelled to the Mestalla top of La Liga on goal difference, knowing that a win would take them three points clear of Real Madrid, who don’t play until Sunday. A win for Valencia would take them into fifth, languishing down in eighth at the start of the day.

?After a tepid start in which Barcelona dominated possession, Valencia won a penalty after Jose Gaya was brought down by Gerard Pique inside the box. Maxi Gomez stepped up to the spot, but he was denied by Marc-Andre ter Stegen who pulled off an excellent save.

Barcelona were on the back foot in terms of chances, yet ter Stegen stepped up every time to keep out everything Valencia threw his way. He forced Gomez’s powerful driven shot onto the crossbar, before tipping Kevin Gameiro’s scuffed effort round the post in an excellent double save.

With Valencia unable to get past the German shotstopper for the duration of the first half, they needed just two minutes of the second half to beat him. Gomez picked up the ball and steadied himself before shooting, with his powerful strike coming off Jordi Alba’s side and into the back of the net for the hosts.

That was the wake up call Barcelona needed, yet they still showed no signs of scoring. The Blaugrana didn’t register a shot on target inside the first hour, though Valencia were resilient and somewhat stubborn in defence in their efforts to keep the reigning champions out.

Valencia maintained their momentum and deservedly found their second, Maxi Gomez finally getting his goal. After being denied a goal from the penalty spot and his earlier strike given as an own goal, Gomez struck the ball beautifully into the bottom corner to seal the win for Valencia.

Both sides have a round of 16 tie in the Copa del Rey up next, after both reaching the final last year. Valencia travel to third division side Cultural Leonesa – who knocked out Atletico Madrid – on Wednesday, while Barcelona entertain Leganes at the Camp Nou the following evening.

Let’

Valencia 2-0 Barcelona: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Terrific Ches Inflict Huge Blow on Barça

Valencia moved into the European spots with a huge win on Saturday afternoon, as they beat Barcelona 2-0 at the Mestalla.

?The hosts were gifted a golden chance to take the lead early on, winning a penalty for a foul on Jose Gaya by Gerard Pique. However, Marc-Andre ter Stegen was there to spare Barcelona’s blushes, saving well from Maxi Gomez to keep the game goalless inside the opening 12 minutes.

Valencia were having the better chances, constantly testing ter Stegen in goal. In the space of a few minutes, the German goalkeeper pushed Gomez’s fierce effort onto the bar, forced Kevin Gameiro’s shot past the post with his fingertips and smothered Francis Coquelin’s attempt.


Valencia finally found their breakthrough two minutes after the restart, through an unfortunate own goal from Jordi Alba. The ball fell to Gomez inside the box, and a big deflection off Alba took the ball past ter Stegen and gave the hosts an inevitable lead.

It took until the 74th minute for Barcelona to have their first shot on target, with Lionel Messi sending his free kick goal bound. That was their best chance of the game, but Jaume Domenench made an impressive save to keep the Argentine at bay.

Soon after that, Valencia killed the game off with their second goal of the afternoon. x found Gomez in acres of space, and the Uruguayan delightfully guided into the bottom corner to wrap up a massive win for Los Ches.


VALENCIA

FBL-ESP-LIGA-VALENCIA-BARCELONA

Player Ratings

Starting XI: Domenench (7); Wass (6), Garay (6), Gabriel (7), Gaya (6); Torres (6), Kondogbia (7), Coquelin (6), Carlos Soler (7); Gameiro (6), Gomez (7*).

Substitutes: Rodrigo (6), Costa (N/A).


STAR MAN – Maxi Gomez had an afternoon to remember for Valencia, in a fantastic display. Despite missing a penalty early on, he bounced back and assisted the first goal before doubling their lead with a wonderful strike, with the Uruguayan striker having an excellent game at the Mestalla.



BARCELONA

Key Talking Point

Frenkie De Jong,Sergi Roberto,Sergio Busquets

?Barcelona had a huge chance to extend their lead at the top of La Liga to three points, with ?Real Madrid not in action until Sunday. While they had control of the game early on, they were lucky not to go behind through a moment of rashness from Pique that conceded the penalty.

Barca had so many wake up calls throughout the game, but they remained lethargic and lacklustre all afternoon long. Valencia’s first goal had been coming, and when Gomez wrapped it up the game was beyond Barcelona, who never seemed like showing that quality to go and win.

Quique Setien’s arrival seemed to be the change the Blaugrana needed, but a poor display at the Mestalla shows the same problems are there. It was a very underwhelming performance from Barcelona, who only have themselves to blame for a damaging defeat.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Ter Stegen (7*); Roberto (6), PIque (5), Umtiti (6), Alba (5); Arthur (5), De Jong (7), Busquets (5); Fati (5), Griezmann (5), Messi (6).

Substitutes: Vidal (5), Rakitic (N/A), Callado (N/A).


Marc Andre Ter Stegen

STAR MAN – With the absence of quality outfield, ?Marc-Andre ter Stegen was the standout player for Barcelona. The German goalkeeper was outstanding in between the sticks and pulled off some critical saves, though in the end his 



Looking Ahead

FBL-ESP-LIGA-VALENCIA-BARCELONA

It’s midweek action in the Copa del Rey next, with Valencia travelling to third division side Cultural Leonesa on Wednesday. Los Ches are back at the Mestalla on the weekend, when they host Celta Vigo next Saturday.

Barcelona have two home games in three days, starting with the visit of Leganes in the Copa del Rey on Thursday. The Blaugrana then entertain Levante at the Camp Nou on Sunday, as they hope to extend their lead at the top of La Liga.


Let’

Liverpool Ahead of Barcelona & Real Madrid in Race for Benfica Starlet Rafael Brito

?Liverpool are leading the race for Benfica starlet Rafael Brito, who is also a target for Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The 18-year-old is yet to make his first league appearance for the Eagles, with the Reds and their rivals eager to make their move before he does so. After his Primeira Liga debut, Brito’s £38m release-clause will become active, having agreed new terms during the early weeks of 2020.

Rafael Brito

Local news outlet Record claim (via ?Sports Mole) that ?Liverpool have been jolted into action after learning of the clause in his deal with Benfica, and they are understood to have the edge over their Spanish competitors.

The Reds came close to signing Brito last summer, only for a deal to fall through as negotiations neared completion. However, they have not given up hope of bringing the Portuguese to Anfield, with Jurgen Klopp’s men believing he’s still open to joining the club.

The German has proved young players – such as Harvey Elliott and Curtis Jones – will have an opportunity in his Liverpool team, which is another factor that seems to work in their favour.

While preferring to play in the middle of defence, Brito is likewise familiar with the holding midfielder position, gaining experience in both roles during his ten-year spell in the Benfica youth setup.

Joscha Wosz,Rafael Brito

Unfortunately, they have no control over his game-time in Lisbon, and forking out £38m for an unproven teenager is unrealistic. If he does make his Primeira Liga bow in the coming months, don’t expect a switch to Anfield anytime soon.

Once his release-clause is active, the chances of Brito joining Liverpool look remote, with regards to the immediate future, at least. 

Nevertheless, this a player the Reds are clearly keeping a close eye on, suggesting a move to Merseyside may eventually materialise, if the defender continues his impressive development.


For more from Ed Alexander, follow him on Twitter

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Copa del Rey: Breaking Down the Last 16 Draw for Barcelona, Real Madrid & the Rest

?The newly revamped Copa del Rey is proving a big hit this year. While the Magic of the Copa™ may have been artificially inseminated (single-leg fixtures played at the home of the lower-ranked team), it has proved no less welcome.

30-time winners Barcelona went behind to third-tier UD Ibiza and had to rely on a double from Antoine Griezmann to get them out of trouble, while Unionistas de Salamanca (also third tier) won hearts and minds with their display against Real Madrid.

The recently formed community-owned club – ?whose celebrations after being drawn against Madrid went viral – gave ?Los Blancos a real test despite the eventual 3-1 defeat. 

FBL-ESP-CUP-UNIONISTAS SALAMANCA-REAL MADRID

However, the big story of the round was Cultural Leonesa (Segunda B) beating Diego Simeone’s ?Atletico Madrid 2-1.

The last time Los Rojiblancos went out to a Segunda B team was in 2011. The next day manager Gregorio Manzano was fired and replaced by (drum roll…) Diego Simeone.

The only thing that would’ve made it more embarrassing for the Argentine coach would have been if Leonesa had been wearing this kit.

Atleti weren’t the only Goliath felled in the round of 32, as Primera sides Mallorca, Espanyol, Celta Vigo and Real Betis all went out, while Bilbao needed penalties to get past Elche.

FBL-ESP-CUP-CULTURAL LEONESA-ATLETICO

In the words of The Spanish Football Podcast: #CopaDelYay.

Bring on the last 16!


2019/20 Copa del Rey Last 16 Draw

?Badajoz vs ?Granada
?Cultural Leonesa ?vs ?Valencia
?Tenerife ?vs Athletic Club?
?Real Zaragoza ?vs ?Real Madrid
?Mirandes vs? Sevilla?
?Rayo Vallecano vs? ?Villarreal
??Barcelona ?vs ?Leganes
?Real Sociedad ?vs ?Osasuna

As reward for being the last two Segunda B sides in the draw, Badajoz and Cultural Leonesa were drawn with Granada and Valencia respectively – the former perhaps less glamorous but eminently winnable. Amazingly, Badajoz are fourth in the division that also contains Granada’s B side.

After seeing off Atleti, Qatari-backed Leonesa – in the last 16 for the first time since 1960 – will be confident of facing whoever comes to the lion’s den, or Lion King Stadium as their home turf is genuinely called. Well, sort of – Estadio Reino de Leon.

Tenerife, Rayo and Mirandes can give life to middling seasons in the second tier with big scalps against their Primera opponents. Perhaps high-flying Sevilla travelling the length of Spain from Andalusia to the Basque Country and the sub-6,000-seater Estadio Municipal de Anduva represents the biggest piece of discarded yellow fruit.


Zaragoza – who are seeking promotion back to the top flight under former Copa del Rey winner as a player Victor Fernandez – hosting Real Madrid is arguably the tie of the round.

Barcelona face off against relegation battlers Leganes in a fixture that looks infinitely less anxiety-inducing for Quique Setien than, say, away to Rayo or Leonesa…

The other all-Primera match-up sees Europe-chasing Real Sociedad host Osasuna – a contest that finished 4-3 in the league just last month.

The last 16 ties will be played in a single-match format on 28, 29 and 30 of January.

Let’

90min’s Definitive European Power Rankings: Week 18 – Derry Girls Special

?Following a week in which: 

– Liverpool won AGAIN hi.

– Benfica won AGAIN hi.

– Ciro Immobile scored AGAIN hi.

– Brendan Rodgers whitened his teeth AGAIN hi. 

We, using quotes from my hometown’s favourite TV show Derry Girls, rank the 15 best football teams in Europe. Lethal hi. 


15. Willem II (New Entry) 

Damil Dankerlui

“Slainte muthaf**kas!”

Didn’t expect to see Willem II in the Definitive European Power Rankings, did you? Neither did I to be honest, but because it’s been a pretty lean week, I scoured Eredivisie and found Shatner FC are actually really good. 

They’re unbeaten in their last seven league games, and have beaten Ajax, PSV Eindhoven and AZ Alkmaar in recent weeks. That’s impressive. 

So raise a glass to Willem II, and congratulate them on their first ever appearance in 90min’s Definitive European Power Rankings. Leefs hi. 


14. Schalke 04 (New Entry) 

Yevhen Konoplyanka

“Directly before the weeping, can you remember what you were doing? What you were talking about?”

After a Christmas period of mourning the loss of their prodigious goalkeeper – Alexander Nübel – to Bayern Munich (yeah, that’s happened before…), Schalke 04 stopped weeping, dusted themselves down and got back to business. 

And by back to business, we mean beat high-flying Borussia Monchengladbach. Pure class hi. 


13. Marseille (New Entry) 

FBL-FRA-CUP-TRELISSAC-MARSEILLE

“Ach, Fionnula, what about you? I thought I could smell vinegar!”

Ach, Andre Villas-Boas, what about you? I thought I could smell Premier League flop! 

And after flopping, in a big, big way in England, it looked like AVB’s managerial career might’ve been dead and buried. 

But now he’s back, in pog form (wrong show, but it had to be done)! 

The former ‘next big thing’ is making waves in France with Marseille, playing some of the best football in Europe and guiding them to second in Ligue 1. Fair play hi. 


12. Bayern Munich (Up 2) 

Thomas Mueller,. Thiago Alcantara

“Oh, bunk. I’ll find some dirt on you yet, boy. I’ve got people working on it.”

?Bayern are working on it. 

They’re working on a way to reinvigorate their squad. 

They’re working on a way to challenge RB Leipzig at the top of the Bundesliga. 

They’re working on a way to get out of paying £120m for a Philippe Coutinho – because he’s pure brock hi. 


11. Benfica (Up 2) 

Players of SL Benfica celebrate

“Step aside, we are armed.”

Benfica’s last 14 Primeira Liga games: 

Played: 14. 

Won: 14. 

Drawn: 0.

Lost: 0.

Goals Scored: 37.

Goals Conceded: 4.

Goal Difference: +29. 

Step aside Portuguese football teams, Benfica are armed and dangerous. Far too good hi. 


10. Barcelona (-)

Quique Setien

“They were having a party. I could hear the music.”

Thou shall not make any Ibiza jokes. Thou shall not make any Ibiza jokes. Thou shall not make any Ibiza jokes. They’re lazy and everyone else has done them…

The Quique Setien era at ?Barcelona began in earnest this past week, with the former Real Betis overseeing surprisingly slender wins over Granada and Ibiza.

The mediocre performance in Ibiza was probably largely due to the fact that the Barcelona players were TOO BUSY RAVING WITH WAYNE LINEKER AND TIESTO AND [INSERT DJ NAME HERE] WAHEYYYYYYYYYYYYYY to care about the match. Nearly refrained hi. 


9. Manchester City (-)

Aymeric Laporte

“What are we going to do?”

“Well maybe we could start with calming the f**k down.”

Don’t panic ?Manchester City, the only player at the club who can actually defend is now fully fit. And judging by the fact that his return coincided with the Citizens’ first clean sheet in five games, that’s a pretty good thing. 

Nice one hi. 


8. Inter (Down 3) 

Romelu Lukaku

“Does anyone have 10p, I’m ringing Childline.”

“You can’t ring Childline every time your mother threatens to kill you.”

?Inter, you can’t sign a Premier League player every time you drop points. That isn’t going to work. 

What you really need is a tactical plan B. You need to work out a way to win games when you’re not going “100 km/h”. 

That’s the key hi. 


7. Leicester City (-) 

FBL-ENG-PR-LEICESTER-WEST HAM

“Lovely, altogether. You know, every year I sit backstage listening to the singers and it really makes me realise just how talented the professionals who originally recorded these tracks were.”

Big Brendy Baps and ?Leicester City are lovely, altogether. They absolutely pummelled West Ham in midweek and sit pretty comfortably in the top three. 

You know, watching them really makes me realise just how good Liverpool are, because they’re 19 points clear of Leicester City. That’s mad hi. 


6. Paris Saint-Germain (Up 2) 

Neymar Jr,Kylian Mbappe

“Great show.”

Kylian Mbappe’s Ligue 1 stats:

 

Games Played: 14.

Goals: 13.

Assists: 4.

Neymar’s Ligue 1 stats: 

Games Played: 12. 

Goals: 11. 

Assists: 5. 

Great showing from the two most electric footballers in Europe. Absolutely unreal hi. 


5. Real Madrid (Down 1) 

Brahim Diaz

“Relax love, we’ve a good two or three hours before the rioting starts.”

Things are going really well at Real Madrid at the moment. They’re joint top of La Liga, through to the next round of the UEFA Champions League and the Copa del Rey, and all their golden oldies are performing. 

So we can fully expect all hell to break loose, riots to ensue and the sky to fall when they inevitably are knocked out of the Champions League by Manchester City. It’s going to be a disaster hi. 


4. SS Lazio (Up 2)

Ciro Immobile

“Well I am not being individual on me own.”

Usually 90min’s Definitive European Power Rankings team laud Ciro Immobile, at least, twice a week. However, this week, we thought that it’s high time we praised his supporting cast, because they’re all bloody brilliant too.

– Simone Inzaghi: You’re best manager in Italy; keep up the good work. 

– Thomas Strakosha: It’s very impressive to be this good at 24 years old. 

– Luiz Felipe: You’re only 22? Prospect much?! 

– Francesco Acerbi: We are so glad you’re still playing football, and doing so at the highest level. 

– Stefan Radu: Nice job with the whole conversion from left back to left centre back. Seamless. 

– Manuel Lazzari: What a signing you’ve been. 

– Sergej Milinkovic-Savic: You’re probably the best midfielder in Serie A. 

– Lucas Leiva: It’s weird how good you’ve been in recent years. 

– Luis Alberto: How did Liverpool not see how amazing you are? 

– Stefan Lulic: The best LWB in Serie A for over a decade. 

– Joaquin Correa: I just really enjoy watching you play football. 

Props to you all hi. 


3. RB Leipzig (Down 1) 

Julian Nagelsmann

“Lovely job so far Seamus, but, you know, keep it moving – Rawhide is on in 15 minutes.”

Lovely job so far Julian, but, you, keep it moving – Bayern Munich have won their last four and are just four points adrift of your RB Leipzig atop of the Bundesliga. Keep up the good work hi. 


2. Juventus (Up 1) 

FBL-ITA-CUP-JUVENTUS-UDINESE

“Orla has got really into step aerobics. Her instructor says she’s a natural. Says she’s got what it takes to go all the way.”

Maurizio Sarri has really got into this whole winning this. He’s a natural. 

So far this season, he’s become only the second manager since 1929/30 to win 14 of his first 15 home games with Juventus. Oh and he’s also accumulated more Serie A points in his first season in charge than any other manager in the club’s history. 

He’s got what it takes to go all the way with Juventus hi. 


1. Liverpool (-) 

TOPSHOT-FBL-ENG-PR-WOLVES-LIVERPOOL

“We’re basically celebrities now, we’re like The Corrs.”

The 2019/20 Liverpool team are basically the best team in Premier League history now, they’re like the Corrs…no that’s not right…I mean, they’re like a mix between Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’, Man City’s ‘Centurians’ and Manchester United’s treble winners all wrapped into one. 

Unbeatable hi. 


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Adama Traore & 6 Other Surprising Stars to Have Passed Through Barcelona’s La Masia

?Barcelona’s La Masia academy is a place of great renown, responsible for producing some of the greatest footballers the game has ever seen and setting the standards for passing, possession-based football.

While granite-forged uncompromising tacklers like Carles Puyol have been developed at ‘The Farm’, the academy is far more associated with technical wizards such as Xavi, Fabregas, Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi. 

The footballing equivalents of cup and ball magicians who show and take away in a sleight-of-foot instant, then pass, pass and pass you into oblivion – ?players that ‘get you that carousel and make you dizzy’ as Sir Alex famously put it.

It seems odd then that ?Wolves’ tank-like dribble machine Adama Traore is too a product of the ?Barcelona school of football, spending 11 years there between 2004 and 2015.

Adama Traore

After mixed spells with Aston Villa and Middlesbrough, the 23-year-old is now the Premier League’s top dribble maker and has been one of the standout performers in England in 2019/20, grabbing his seventh assist of the campaign in the narrow defeat to Liverpool.

?Wolves’ unstoppable object ?has not ruled out a return to his unlikely alma mater in the future.

Here are six other players who it may surprise you to learn also spent time in La Masia


Mauro Icardi (Inter/Paris Saint-Germain)

Mauro Icardi

After scoring obscene numbers of goals as a pre-teen in the Canary Islands, Barcelona won the race to snap up a young Icardi up to their youth academy, where he played between 2008 and 2011.

However – as a player who frequently finishes matches with fewer touches than the goalkeeper – Icardi’s style clashed somewhat with Barça’s.

“Barcelona’s game was very different to my characteristics and we opted a change to Italian football, which is the one that suits me the most,” ?he said in an interview about his time in Catalonia.

Off-field drama aside, now 26, Icardi has twice won Serie A’s Capocannoniere since leaving Barça and is one of the world’s deadliest (if not the most defensive) strikers.


Oriol Romeu (Southampton)

Oriol Romeu

Quite at home getting muddy on a cold and wet Monday night away at [insert undesirable Premier League club here], Romeu seems a world away from Barcelona where he began his career.

Given his senior debut by Pep Guardiola in 2010 no less, Romeu made just two senior appearances before joining ?Chelsea eight-and-a-half years ago.

Barcelona’s buyback option was never exercised and Romeu has (after some loan spells in Spain and Germany) become one of the Premier League’s regular fixtures, often pushing the upper end of the tackles and cards charts at Southampton.


Martin Montoya (Brighton)

Martin Montoya

Not only did Brighton right back Montoya feature in La Masia, he graduated – playing 67 times for the Barcelona first team between 2011 and 2014 (often as a sub).

Like Romeu, the Catalan defender is seemingly more naturally suited to the muck and bullets approach of a Premier League scrap than tiki-taka.

He is Brighton’s second top tackler in the Premier League this season, while he has made the fewest passes of any of the Seagulls regular back four/five. The 28-year-old can get forward, and even play as a winger, but has just two assists and zero goals in his time with Brighton.


Sandro Ramirez (Everton/Real Valladolid)

Primera Division - "FC Barcelona v Levante UD"

Still technically an ?Everton player, Sandro represents the mistakes of the club’s recent transfer strategy.

On paper, back in 2017, he seemed like a no-brainer. The former Barça starlet had been banging them in for Malaga and had a release clause of just €6m. However, the forward scored just once in 16 appearances (never in the Premier League) and struggled to fit in on Merseyside.

Now in his third loan spell (Real Valladolid), Sandro has amazingly scored just two goals since the 2017/18 season back when he joined the Toffees.

Even at his early best, Sandro seemed like a burly, battering ram of a forward, unsuited to Barça’s philosophy. Now at still only 24, that has been borne out, but whether he will ever find the right club for him at the top level remains to be seen.


Pepe Reina (Milan/Aston Villa)

Gary McAllister,Jose Manual Reina

A fine and accomplished goalkeeper, it just feels a little odd that Reina started his career at Barcelona.

Following in his father Miguel Reina’s footsteps (who played over 100 times for Barça in the 60s and 70s), Madrid-born Pepe joined La Masia as a teen, coming through the system at a similar time to Iniesta, Xavi and Victor Valdes.

After signing Robert Enke and with Valdes coming through, Reina – the future cheerleader in chief for the Spanish national team during their best moments – was shipped out to Villarreal by Barça. However, that was not before losing to future employers ?Liverpool in the 2001 UEFA Cup semi-final, after conceding a Gary McAllister penalty (above).


Keita Balde Diao (Monaco)

Keita Balde

Born in Catalonia, Senegal international Keita was picked up by Barcelona as a youngster, spending seven years in La Masia between 2004 and 2011.

Discipline problems apparently cost him the chance to break through into the first team and the uber-direct, uber-pacey winger was offloaded to for just €300k Lazio.

After bagging 16 in the 2016/17 Serie A season, 24-year-old Keita has since struggled for consistency with Monaco and Inter.

Once again on a hot streak, he has five goals in as many games for Monaco, under new manager Robert Moreno. Discipline and holding onto the ball – the cornerstone of a good La Masia education – still remains an issue, however.


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