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Xavi looks set to end his Barcelona career by moving to Qatari side Al Sadd in a three-year deal with £7m a season, according to reports in Spain
Xavi looks set to leave Barcelona and join the Qatari club Al Sadd next season, according to reports in Spain.
The 35-year-old midfielder, who announced his international retirement last August, will sign a three-year deal worth a reported €10m (£7m) a season despite still having a year of his contract at Camp Nou still to run.
Last Friday, the Barcelona-based newspaper Mundo Deportivo first hinted at Xavi’s intention to move to Qatar, with AS claiming on Thursday that he will replace the former Real Madrid striker Raúl after he left Al Sadd to join New York Cosmos last year.
“Xavi has signed a three-year deal with the Qatari outfit with the option of a fourth season and will take an annual salary of €10m,” said the report. “The Barça playmaker will form part of the squad as well as undertake other duties, acting as an adviser to the Aspire Academy.”...
Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo could be sanctioned for his goal celebration during Sunday’s La Liga clásico
Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo could be sanctioned for his goal celebration during Sunday’s La Liga clásico, according to the president of Spain’s professional football league.
Ronaldo, not for the first time when he has scored at the Camp Nou, appeared to be urging the Barcelona fans to calm down when he struck to make it 1-1 in the 31st minute.
The Portugal captain has gained a reputation for winding up opposing fans and was widely criticised when he tore off his shirt to celebrate his successful penalty in last season’s Champions League final victory over Atlético Madrid.
“We have to be careful with provocative gestures by a player when he scores a goal or with any other provocation or conduct that could incite violence among spectators,” said the LFP president Javier Tebas. “It must be sanctioned, from a fine up to a suspension. We will look into it.”...
Llinars del Vallès and Haltern are united in mourning for 16 German exchange students; other victims include businesspeople travelling to a trade fair in Cologne
Before the sun had risen on Tuesday morning, one group of teenagers in the Catalan town of Llinars del Vallès had already dragged themselves out of bed.
For the past week, the 14- and 15-year-olds had shared their homes and lives with 16 teenagers from western Germany. They had become fast friends months earlier when the Catalan students travelled to the German town of Haltern for the first part of the exchange. On Tuesday, they faced the tough task of saying goodbye to their new friends.
Accompanied by their families, the German teenagers dropped their Spanish friends at the town’s train station, some 35 miles from Barcelona’s El Prat airport, exchanging hugs and promising to keep in touch.
Hours later, the Catalan students reacted with shock, sobbing as they were told that their friends were believed to be on the Germanwings flight 4U9525 that had crashed in the French Alps on Tuesday morning. “They’re completely distraught,” said Martí Pujol i Casals, the mayor of Llinars del Vallès. “They spent 24 hours a day with these kids this week.”...
The Barcelona coach, Luis Enrique, described Luis Suárez as the man who Barcelona were missing after his superb strike secured a 2-1 clásico victory over Real Madrid
The Barcelona coach, Luis Enrique, described Luis Suárez as the man his side were missing after his superb strike secured a 2-1 clásico victory over Real Madrid that helps them take a big step towards the league title.
Suárez controlled Dani Alves’s long ball and beat Iker Casillas to score what proved to be the winner in the 55th minute, taking Barcelona four points clear and leaving Carlo Ancelotti admitting that the title was “more difficult”, even if he did refuse to throw in the towel.
After a difficult start to his Barcelona career, in which it took him 577 minutes to score in the league, this was Suárez’s sixth goal in seven games and his 14th this season. In the buildup he had admitted “I felt I was not helping the team,” and revealed he had not enjoyed the first clásico of the season “as much as I should have done”.
That was his first competitive game in four months after his ban for biting Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup, but he certainly enjoyed this one, sliding to the corner flag on his knees after scoring. Luis Enrique said that even when Suárez was not scoring goals, he had been delighted with the Uruguayan’s performances...
Barcelona’s morale has revived and Real Madrid’s has nosedived since Cristiano Ronaldo beat Lionel Messi to the Ballon d’Or, and momentum is with Luis Enrique’s side going into Sunday’s match
Cristiano Ronaldo laid down the Ballon d’Or on the plinth in front of him and began his acceptance speech, Sepp Blatter to his left, Thierry Henry to the right. As he drew to a close he thanked everyone and then paused. He leant in towards the microphone, clenched his fists and boomed out a long, deep “Sí”. This was Ronaldo’s third Ballon d’Or but he was determined it would not be his last. Only one player has won more and he was sitting in the front row, a runner-up: Lionel Messi.
“This is the eighth time I have been here and it is always Messi and I and one other player,” Ronaldo said later. Before the presentation, the two footballers had met briefly. Ronaldo called Messi over to meet his son, telling the Argentinian that Ronaldo junior watched him on television, talked about him. He also admitted that Messi’s success helped to drive him. “I’m sure the competition between us motivates him too. It’s good for me, good for him and good for other players who want to grow,” he said. It is, he could have added, good for us all...
Catalan bank buying TSB for £1.7bn is one of few banks to emerge stronger from financial crisis in Spain
TSB has agreed a £1.7bn takeover by Spain’s Banco de Sabadell, with Lloyds Banking Group selling its 50% stake in the UK bank.
Sabadell will pay 340p a share, far above the 260p price at which TSB floated on the London Stock Exchange last June. Shares in TSB rose 1.8% on Friday morning to 332.9p, making them the biggest riser on the FTSE 250. The terms are the same as those unveiled last week when the two banks made the surprise announcement.
Sabadell has agreed to buy a near-10% stake in TSB from Lloyds, and Lloyds has given an irrevocable undertaking to accept the offer for its entire remaining 40% shareholding in TSB...
The Manchester City captain, Vincent Kompany, said it would take time to close the ‘huge gap’ in class with Barcelona
Vincent Kompany said there is a big difference between the leading Premier League clubs and Barcelona and Bayern Munich, after Manchester City were knocked out of the Champions League...
Rakitic’s early goal gave Barça a 1-0 win on the night to extend their aggregate lead, while Sergio Agüero had a penalty saved as City chased an unlikely result
The phrase in Spanish is ganar sin despeinarse. It means to win without even having to mess your hair up and, though Manchester City did briefly threaten to make something implausible happen, they were powerless ultimately to prevent this being one of those occasions. They were outclassed for the most part and the only glimmer of consolation is that Barcelona, and Lionel Messi, on this form could leave even the most distinguished opponents on their knees.
Are Barça back to their exceptional best? They certainly gave that impression at times on a night when the number of chances Messi and his colleagues stacked up gave the narrow margin of victory a deceptive appearance...
Barcelona’s Luis Suárez has claimed that he left Liverpool last summer because he felt mistreated by the English press.
The striker was a controversial figure during his time in England, and was criticised for his conduct in a number of incidents – namely his bite on Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic and the racism scandal with Patrice Evra.
Last month, the Uruguayan dismissed suggestions that he tried to bite Manchester City’s Martín Demichelis during Barcelona’s 2-1 Champions League win at the Etihad Stadium last month, in which the 28-year-old scored twice.
“They published images of me [next to Demichelis] in the morning and when they saw that that was false those images disappeared off the pages, he told BeIn Sports. “I said enough and that they leave me alone and that I went because I was tired of them, but yet they are still looking [for me].
“I don’t know if there is a campaign of the English press towards me, but it can be seen that they miss me. They criticise me so much that they look for something that is not there to draw attention.”...
Ciudadanos presents a threat to Podemos, the new left-wing party, whose ponytailed leader, Pablo Iglesias has left some voters wary
A new party has split the right-wing vote in Spain, stealing support from the governing Popular party as it faces a general election this year.
Ciudadanos (Citizens), a right-of-centre party that went national only this year, polled 13 per cent in a survey for the radio station Cadena Ser.
The same poll gave Podemos, the new left-wing party, the lead with 24.6 per cent, with the Popular party on 22.5 per cent and the opposition Socialists trailing with 19 per cent.
It is a big breakthrough for Ciudadanos, which was previously viewed as a regional anti-nationalist party in Catalonia. Three years ago it won 8 per cent of the vote in regional elections.
Its leader, Albert Rivera, 35, who posed naked for campaign posters in 2006, offers disgruntled right-wing voters an alternative to Mariano Rajoy's government, which has been dogged by corruption scandals.
Ciudadanos also presents a threat to Podemos, whose ponytailed leader, Pablo Iglesias, 36, has left some voters wary. In contrast, the clean-cut Mr Rivera offers a safer choice. He has helped to reassure voters by enlisting Luis Garicano, an economics professor from the London School of Economics, as one of his policy advisers.
Ciudadanos would reform labour laws to introduce a single work contract, instead of temporary contracts, which 24 per cent of workers have, but which offer little stability.
The party would bring in tax credits to help workers who earn less than the minimum annual salary of (EURO)9,080 (£6,500). It also promises to overhaul Spain's education system and introduce more skills-based subjects.
Lluis Orriols, of the Carlos III University of Madrid, said: "The success of Ciudadanos is down to the fact many conservatives are sick of traditional politics. Ciudadanos could be the Podemos of the right, which many want."
Meanwhile, Podemos unveiled a plan to offer new parents a one-off payment per child, free state kindergartens and to extend paternity leave on full pay from 13 days to four months, making it the same as for women. It estimates the extension would cost (EURO)1.5 billion.
VMC's roving young reporter City Jake checks in with an account of his Catalonian travels with The Blues this past week
VMC's roving young reporter City Jake checks in with an account of his Catalonian travels with The Blues this past week...
The striker has added a little nastiness to the character of the Barça squad as Luis Enrique’s team have tweaked their passing style to overtake Real Madrid at the top of La Liga
Xavi and Sergio Busquets pulled on fluorescent bibs, clambered out of the dugout and set off up the touchline together, greeted by a roar as eloquent as the wild, desperate way that Jérémy Mathieu had just hacked the ball up the pitch. With 50 minutes gone, it was 1-1 in el clásico but carry on like this and it wasn’t going to stay that way. Real Madrid had scored one, had another disallowed and missed a sitter; they’d ended the first half with nine shots and started the second half with a 10th, saved by Claudio Bravo. Gerard Piqué was holding Barcelona together but they needed control, which is where Xavi and Busquets came in. Or where they were going to.
Because then it happened. As Busquets and Xavi jogged up the line, a few metres in front of them, the ball dropped in a long, long arch, Dani Alves’s pass falling behind Pepe. Luis Suárez brought it down soft-footed, nudging it in front of him with his first touch; with his second, he rolled it one way as Iker Casillas rolled the other. The ball hit the net while Suárez kissed his wrist, turned and raced towards the corner flag, skidding on his knees and disappearing somewhere beneath Ivan Rakitic, Alves, Andrés Iniesta, Lionel Messi, Neymar, Mathieu and Piqué...
Barcelona’s Luis Suárez scored a superb winner after Cristiano Ronaldo equalised for Real Madrid as the home side triumphed 2-1 at Camp Nou
Barcelona and Real Madrid have traded places; they may also have traded roles. Four points ahead eight games ago, Madrid are now four points behind after Barcelona beat them in a chaotic, open game in which it was the Catalans who scored with a header from a corner and a goal born of a long ball. Jérémy Mathieu and Luis Suárez got them, the second beautifully taken, but as Barcelona overran their opponents in the final minutes Neymar, Suárez and Lionel Messi were unable to add a third goal that would have also wiped out Madrid’s head-to-head advantage that will decide the title should they finish level. “That was the only pity,” Luis Enrique admitted.
It nearly came. By the final minutes, Madrid were exhausted and Barcelona were on top, Messi running at opponents, skipping away from challenges, Jordi Alba speeding up the left, Neymar getting chances. Yet the last impression was not the lasting one. This had been far from easy...
Barcelona manager Luis Enrique says his team should have beaten Manchester City by more goals, after a 1-0 victory on Wednesday night advanced the Catalan side to the quarter-finals of the Champions League. Enrique says the game was 'too tight' and Barcelona deserved to win by more. Manuel Pellegrini says Manchester City played their best against a team which he rates as the best in the world
Barcelona’s maestro Lionel Messi looked better than ever against Manchester City and was quite astonishing in the first half, his touch and ball control superb
Whoah.” Pep Guardiola blew out his cheeks and put his hands over his face, unable to believe what he had just seen. To the right, his father was laughing, to the left, Manuel Estiarte, the former water polo player who is Guardiola’s consigliere, sat wide-eyed and open-mouthed. Below them, James Milner sat on the turf open-legged. Through his legs and out the other side of him, Lionel Messi accelerated. The collective “Oooh,” became a chant: “Messi! Messi! Messi!”
He had only gone and done it again. The clock showed 37 minutes and Messi had already nutmegged Fernandinho. He had already created the goal too, his 21st assist this season. There would have been more had his team-mates finished chances as well as he made them. Neymar could not convert a wonderful scooped pass 10 minutes later and others followed: by the end, four Messi “assists” went unconsummated...
Barcelona said they will do everything they can to keep Lionel Messi but may not be able to fend off a big-spending club
Barcelona will do everything they can to keep Lionel Messi at Camp Nou but accept they may not be able to match an offer from a bigger-spending club such as Manchester City.
The 27-year-old, who is the leading scorer in Barça’s history, is tied to the club until June 2019 and has a £205m release clause in his contract.
When asked about Messi’s future, Barcelona’s international sporting director, Ariedo Braida, told the Catalan TV channel Esport 3: “I believe it’s very difficult that Messi will leave Barça but at times in football strange things happen. Now with these clubs that have so much money like [Manchester] City, certain amounts don’t seem to have a value. In football things happen that appear impossible but I hope he will remain.”...
Barcelona are back on top of La Liga after Lionel Messi scored his 32nd hat-trick for the club, a new Spanish record, in the 6-1 drubbing of Rayo Vallecano
Lionel Messi broke Spain’s hat-trick record and Luis Suárez struck twice as a rampant Barcelona took over top spot in La Liga with a hammering of Rayo Vallecano on Sunday.
Messi scored three times inside 12 minutes in the second half at the Camp Nou to complete his 32nd treble for Barça in all competitions. It meant he beat the record of the most ever recorded in Spanish football that he had shared with the former Athletic Bilbao striker Telmo Zarra.
The Argentinian’s second-half tour de force against a side reduced to 10 men by the dismissal of Tito – Barça themselves had Dani Alves sent off later – included a goal scored from a retaken penalty after he had seen the first saved.
It helped put Barça back on top of La Liga, after an equal amount of games played, for the first time since the start of November...