PSG star opens door to Barcelona return: ‘It’s my home’
PSG defender Dani Alves has this evening revealed that he would jump at the chance to return to Barcelona, if given the opportunity.
Alves, 34, spent 8 trophy-laden seasons at the Camp Nou, between 2008 and 2016.
The Brazilian right-back, who was regarded by many to be the finest in his position in world football during his time with the Blaugrana, racked up an incredible 6 La Liga titles, 4 Copa Del Reys, 4 Spanish Super Cups, 3 Champions Leagues, 3 UEFA Super Cups and 3 Club World Cups with Barca.
However, the summer of 2016 saw Alves depart Catalunya for Serie A giants Juventus on a free transfer, with the veteran stopper having subsequently torn into the Barcelona board for their treatment of him in the months that followed:
‘During my last three seasons I always heard that Alves was leaving but the management never said anything to me.’
‘They were very false and ungrateful. They did not respect me. They only offered me a renewal because of the FIFA transfer ban.’
‘That’s when I played their game and signed a renewal, which included a clause that allowed me to leave for free a year later.’
‘The people who run Barcelona have no idea how to treat their players.’
Alves has since gone on to move club once again, having complained of the strict atmosphere at Juventus before joining Ligue 1 champions PSG last summer.
But, in a statement that is no doubt set to land the experienced Selecao international in hot water with the board at the Parc des Princes, Alves has today revealed that he would jump at the chance to make a return to Barcelona:
‘I’d return to Barcelona tomorrow if they called me.’
‘Barcelona is my home and it’s impossible to say that I’m not going back.’
Predicted Arsenal Line-up To Face West Ham United In The Premier League
Arsenal will look to bounce back against West Ham on Sunday after a disappointing defeat at Newcastle United last weekend. The Gunners suffered a 2-1 defeat despite taking the lead at St.James’ Park.
Arsene Wenger and his boys will need to forget last weekend’s defeat and focus on Sunday’s game against West Ham.
Probable Arsenal XI
Manager: Arsene Wenger
Petr Cech (GK)
Petr Cech has had a mixed season with Arsenal but is expected to start against West Ham.
Calum Chambers (RB)
Chambers has been in and out of the team this season. The defender needs a run of games to gain back his confidence.
Shkodran Mustafi (CB)
The German international has been a regular in the Gunners backline and has been putting some solid displays of late.
Rob Holding (CB)
Rob Holding started the game against Newcastle last weekend. With Koscielny struggling due to injury, Holding is likely to retain his place alongside Mustafi in the Arsenal backline.
Nacho Monreal (LB)
Nacho Monreal has been a consistent performer for Arsenal this season. He has been defensively composed and is expected to start ahead of Sead Kolasinac.
Mohamed Elneny (CM)
Elneny is a top defensive midfielder for the Gunners but Wenger has failed to utilise him properly. However, the Egyptian should start against West Ham.
Granit Xhaka (CM)
Xhaka is yet to live up to his expectations but has dished out solid displays lately. He will be important in dictating terms and establishing control in the midfield on Sunday.
Alex Iwobi (CAM)
Iwobi has blown hot and cold this campaign but his pace and trickery make him a lethal customer against any opposition on any given day. He should start this weekend.
Danny Welbeck (RW)
Welbeck has been in a rich vein of scoring form recently, netting twice against Southampton and once in the Europa League encounter with CSKA Moscow. Should start against the Hammers as the ex-United forward will look to continue his hot goalscoring form.
Alexandre Lacazette (ST)
The Frenchman has been in blistering form since returning from his injury and scored the opener against Newcastle last weekend. He will be raring to go on Sunday.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (LW)
Aubameyang has made a fine start to his life at Arsenal and should lead the attack. Surely, he will be aiming to bag a goal or two at the weekend.
Jurgen Klopp has warned his Liverpool FC team not to underestimate the
threat posed by AS Roma in the Champions League semi-finals.
The Reds were pitted against the Italian team as the two sides face off for a place in the final against either Bayern Munich or Real Madrid in May.
AS Roma produced something of a shock result as they managed to knock FC Barcelona out of the Champions League at the quarter-final stage to book their place in the last four.
The Reds will play the first leg of the semi-final tie against AS Roma at Anfield on Tuesday 24 April, before the return leg in Italy on Wednesday 2 May.
And Klopp offered his reaction to the draw at a news conference at Melwood on Friday before the Reds’ clash with Bournemouth in the Premier League on Saturday.
Klopp said: “Because I knew I’d have to say something after it, I tried to think about what I feel, but it was not that I thought ‘Thank God not Bayern, thank God not Real Madrid, yippee Roma’ or the other way around.
“It is just the draw and I know it is very exciting, but it is good because the most important news is we are still in the competition. Whichever opponent we would have got, I would have said there is a chance because it is football – so there is a chance against Roma.
“But if anybody thinks this is the easiest draw then I cannot help this person; they obviously didn’t see both games against Barcelona. In the first result, the 4-1, it was not like the game was – it was Messi genius against a good side of Roma.
“The second leg was outstanding, it was outstanding what they did. They should have probably won four or five-nil – I was really impressed.
“It is work and no problem with that and now we are looking forward of course to the first game.”
Liverpool FC are through to the semi-finals of the Champions League for the first time in a decade as they look to try and win the competition for the first time since 2005.
The Reds are currently in third place in the Premier League table as they look to try and secure a top-four finish for the second season running under Klopp and a place in the group stage of next season’s Champions League.
Philippe Coutinho Could Get Champions League Medal If Liverpool Win Title
Barcelona midfielder Philippe Coutinho would be eligible for a medal should Liverpool go on to win the UEFA Champions League this season.
The Brazilian made the switch from the Reds to Barcelona in the January transfer window, although his former club have been performing well without their former playmaker. Liverpool beat Manchester City 5-1 over two legs to make it into the semi-finals of the European Cup.
Still, Coutinho could end up with some European silverware, as he played five group games for Liverpool in the competition.
“The winning team is presented with 40 gold medals and the runner-up with 40 silver medals,” it says on UEFA’s website. “Additional medals may not be produced.”
As Liverpool to distribute the medals upon receiving them, meaning they ultimately determine whether the Brazilian would get a prize.
You sense he would. Not only did Coutinho play for Liverpool in the group stages, he was excellent for the team, netting five goals in the process.
As noted by OptaJean, the Barcelona man conjured many memorable moments for his former club:
19 – Philippe Coutinho scored 19 goals from outside the box in the Premier League (out of 41), at least 4 more than any other player since his arrival in February 2013. Blaugrana. https://t.co/sgtR0KwwkZ
Still, if it was up to supporters, perhaps their former No. 10 wouldn’t get a medal at the expense of someone else, as Coutinho left Liverpool in somewhat bitter circumstances.
The midfielder handed in a transfer request ahead of the campaign in an attempt to push through a move to Barcelona, although Liverpool dug in to keep him around for the first part of the campaign. Eventually, he moved on in January in a deal worth £142 million.
Although Coutinho wasn’t eligible to play in Champions League matches for Barcelona after representing Liverpool in the competition, Tuesday was a tough night for all associated with the Blaugrana.
Despite winning the quarter-final first leg 4-1, Barca collapsed against Roma in Italy, losing 3-0.
Harrison Reed has been around these parts long enough to understand what “Mind the Gap” means to a Norwich City fan.
The truth is, Fulham’s second-half goals from Stefan Johansen and Tom Cairney illustrated with clinical precision what the real gap is – and it’s not the mid-table battle with Ipswich Town and a claim to local bragging rights.
Fulham’s run of form – 17 games unbeaten – has probably come too late for automatic promotion, but the play-offs should be nailed on. They, like Norwich, try to play a passing game – sweet on the eye, but with a difference: they can score. City can’t.
City had their chances, but fluffed their lines. Fulham didn’t. Which is why there is a gap of 11 places and 20 points.
“I think it is the hardest thing to do in football, just to put the ball in the back of the net,” said Reed. “We have struggled to do it this year but like we did today, we’ve created chances, we had opportunities to score.
“I don’t know if it is the confidence, or something we are lacking but it is certainly something we need to work on.
“You look at when crosses are coming into the box how many bodies are there in the box? If one man makes a run across the front post and the defender blocks it – like for Cairney’s goal – he slots it in. You need to get bodies in the box, get runners in behind.
“It is something we work no in training and it is something we speak about regularly, to be fair.”
Reed was one of a clutch of players booked in the final throes of the match, as City desperately tried to salvage something – an aggressive stance that had been discussed in the match build-up.
“Before the game it was something we touched on,” he said. “We had to be aggressive and in their faces.
“They like to play football but there is also being careless and ill-disciplined and obviously early in the game you don’t want to be picking up yellow cards here and there because later in the game it becomes difficult.
“It is something we could have looked at – got in their faces a bit more, a few more heavy tackles, just upset their key players and things like that, but I thought we competed very well. They are a good team, the form team in the league and at the moment they are looking like a serious contender for automatic promotion.”
Juventus are in talks over a deal to sign Anthony Martial from Man United this summer, say reports
Italian outlet Tuttosport, as quoted by talkSPORT, is reporting that the Serie A champions have set their sights on signing the 22-year-old French striker this summer as they look to strengthen their squad ahead of next season.
The same story says that talks between Manchester United and Juventus over a possible deal for the attacker are already under way.
The striker’s current contract at Old Trafford is set to expire in the summer of 2019 and there has been no progress over a new deal, according to the same report.
And it looks as if Martial could be heading to Juventus this summer if they can agree a fee with Manchester United, as the story suggests.
Martial has been in decent form for Manchester United so far this season, scoring nine goals and making five assists in 26 Premier League appearances.
He will be hoping to feature for Jose Mourinho’s men when the Red Devils return to Premier League action after the international break with a home clash against Swansea City on Saturday.
The Red Devils are currently in second place in the Premier League table.
J. Wilshere has endured much misfortune with injuries throughout his career
Arsenal fear Jack Wilshere will never overcome his injury issues with the 26-year-old’s fitness behind his ongoing contract stand-off with the club.
Wilshere has three months left on his contract and feels he deserves a new deal on the same £110,000-a-week terms, though Arsenal are only offering £30,000 less.
There is no sign of an agreement and Wilshere is not set to be short of options in the summer, with Everton and West Ham among those who will show interest.
Jack Wilshere has endured much misfortune with injuries throughout his career
Arsenal, who face Stoke at home tomorrow, occasionally alter Wilshere’s training schedule to avoid overdoing things but they are currently testing him in full sessions.
Manager Arsene Wenger was unable to answer questions about the situation after losing his voice but assistant Steve Bould stood in for his boss.
‘Perhaps he will always have a little niggle here and there because of the way he is structured,’ Bould said. ‘That’s his make-up now.
MOST APPEARANCES FOR ARSENAL THIS SEASON
Granit Xhaka, Hector Bellerin – 37
Petr Cech – 32
Sead Kolasinac, Jack Wilshere, Danny Welbeck – 31
Alex Iwobi, Mesut Ozil – 30
Nacho Monreal, Alexandre Lacazette – 29
‘He’s a great player. A fit Jack Wilshere is a very good player. We are all hopeful longer term he has overcome those issues.
‘I’ve known Jack since he was a real young kid. He’s a great footballer — he loves the club and we just need him fit more often than he has been.
‘It is coming slowly but surely. It is something he might have to manage all his career. That’s the nature of Jack I’m afraid. He can pick up an injury because his ankle will turn, his knee will… he’s got a sore knee.’
Wilshere is in line to face Stoke on Sunday despite missing England’s international friendlies against Holland and Italy because of that knee injury.
The forward missed international friendlies against Italy and Spain over the past week, but should return to action for the Catalan club on Saturday
Lionel Messi had seen enough. After Spain’s sixth goal at the Wanda Metropolitano on Tuesday night, the Barcelona forward stood up from his seat and walked inside. His team were being thrashed, and this time he could do nothing to prevent it.
The 30-year-old had expected to be on the pitch and was even confirmed fit the previous day in the pre-match press conference by Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli, but after feeling discomfort in his hamstring and adductor the night before the game, he and the coaching staff decided it was not worth the risk.
It was that same problem that kept the five-time Ballon d’Or winner out of the 2-0 win over Italy in Manchester four days earlier. But instead of returning to his club, Messi was keen to stay with the group in their preparations for the World Cup — and he was eager to start against Spain in Madrid.
On the day of the game, however, it was confirmed that he would miss out. And that was a big blow for Sampaoli, who had spoken at length on Monday about trying out his team with its star player at the core.
That will have to wait and with only two friendlies left for Argentina ahead of the World Cup in June (against Ukraine and Israel), it is a concern. Messi, meanwhile, cut a forlorn figure as he was snapped staring blankly into space during the heavy defeat.
“He had a really good week of training with us,” Sampaoli said of Messi after the loss. “But he still had some discomfort in his leg. After that last session, he felt fatigue. He couldn’t play, but he accompanied the team. He accompanied them in the dressing room. He is really involved ahead of the World Cup.”
Had the match been an important qualifier or a World Cup clash, Messi would have played. But given that it was a friendly, there was no need to take a risk, and although there was frustration at not being able to field their best player, there is no question that it was the correct call.
“If he doesn’t feel at 100 per cent, there is no point risking him,” AFA president Claudio Tapia told TyC Sports afterwards. “Why should we risk? It seems to me to be unnecessary. If he is not right, it is not convenient for him to play.”
Just five days later, however, Messi looks likely to feature for Barcelona in La Liga against Sevilla — although the Argentine will probably start on the bench at the Sanchez Pizjuan on Saturday.
“After the game against Athletic Club (prior to the international break), he had some pain,” Barca boss Ernesto Valverde said on Friday. “I would like him to be without any discomfort at all. But the players are used to dealing with these type of problems. We have to take it into account. A muscle tear would be much worse.”
Indeed it would. But Valverde is not one to take risks with his players and with an 11-point lead in La Liga, he can rest his star man when necessary to keep him fresh for the bigger games, especially in the Champions League (in which Barca face Roma on Wednesday).
La Liga ends on May 20th, with the Champions League final to take place in Kiev six days later. And if Barca are in it, that will mean scarce rest time for Messi ahead of the World Cup, which starts on June 14th.
Before that, Argentina face Ukraine in a friendly on June 4th in Buenos Aires and travel to Israel for another five days later. And should he play in those, Messi will have hardly any rest at all.
Hamstring and adductor problems only go away with extended periods of rest, so it will be a case of managing the player properly between now and the end of the season. With the issue only a minor one, though, Barca are confident they can do that and avoid a more serious injury for their number 10.
In Argentina, fingers are already being crossed. Having seen their team well beaten by a World Cup contender with Messi missing on Tuesday, the fans cannot contemplate travelling to Russia with their star player blighted by injury. Fortunately, it shouldn’t come to that.