Category Archives: Barcelona

Top 50 Young Footballers Final Part – (10-1)

kylian-mbappe

Top 50 Young Footballers Final Part – (10-1)

To round off our countdown of the Top 50 young stars in the world of football at present, we now have our ultimate top ten list which includes some of the brightest and sharpest talents across leagues. It is definitely not easy to be a rising starlet at a time when football teams are chasing after superstars but now and then we see a truly exceptional player break through.

With that in mind, here is our list of the top ten.

10. Harry Winks – Tottenham Hotspur

At 22 years of age, Winks is rightfully regarded as one of the most promising young talents in the Premier League. He usually plays as a midfielder alongside Moussa Dembele or Eric Dier but he has been missing from action lately after picking up an injury. However, for a good majority of the current season and the previous one, Winks has impressed quite a lot of people and for all the right reasons. Blessed with a mature understanding of the game, Winks can contribute equally to the attack and defence and often acts as a glue to hold the two aspects of the team together.

9. Renato Sanches – Swansea- on loan from Bayern Munich

Currently serving a loan spell with Swansea City, the 20-year-old sensation is earmarked for a bright future and after taking a look at his performances, it does not come as a surprise. Known for his energetic performances, Sanches is quite a top-quality box-to-box midfielder and he does have an eye for scoring goals as well. He rose to prominence playing an important role for Portugal in their journey to securing the Euro 2016 title, which eventually earned him the Young Player of the Tournament award.

8. Dele Alli – Tottenham Hotspur

Alli is often at the receiving end of criticism for being too aggressive at times but the fact is that he is one of the brightest English talents at present. Having struck up quite a solid understanding with Harry Kane, Alli is a creative hub for goals and boasts of excellent attacking intent. Blessed with quick feet and efficient ball control, the young star has only gone from strength-to-strength for Spurs. In fact, he put in a particularly sublime performance when they played Real Madrid in a Champions League encounter this season and there seems to be no end to his potential.

7. Matthijs De Ligt – Ajax

Ajax are renowned for producing some of the best talents in the world of football currently and De Ligt is no different. He is quite the epitome of a true-blue ball-playing central defender and at 18 years of age, he has attracted quite a lot of attention from some of the biggest clubs across the world. He can make some important interceptions while also displaying some gutsy blocks and tackles and he is quite a key part of the Ajax team. The player also boasts of a penchant for finding the back of the net and he is quite a package.

6. Marcus Rashford – Manchester United

Rashford burst onto the scene with the Red Devils at a time when they were terribly struggling for pace and attacking intent. He got the goals and assists and immediately became a fan favourite at Old Trafford. Since then, he has managed to establish himself in the first-team and has retained his spot even though the club boasts of having some excellent attackers in the team. At just 20 years of age, he can truly reach great heights if he continues this way.

5. Leroy Sane – Manchester City

Anybody who has followed the Premier League season will be aware of the kind of brilliance Manchester City have displayed to rise to the top. And the 22-year-old attacker has played quite a hand at helping them reach where they are. Pep Guardiola’s men have been renowned for their blistering attack and Sane has simply been sensational for the club. He has already smashed 11 goals and provided 12 assists for the club and he looks set to finish the season on a strong note.

4. Gabriel Jesus – Manchester City

Jesus came into the team as a young, raw talent but currently, he plays like a top-class striker. One of Guardiola’s most trusted players, the 20-year-old has been in impeccable form for the Sky Blues and his performances were strong enough to keep City veteran Sergio Aguero out of regular action. Even now, the player continues to maintain his stronghold on his spot and he has even worked well with Aguero whenever Guardiola employed a two-striker formation. He has a long way ahead of him and he truly has the potential to become a lethal force to be reckoned with.

3. Ousmane Dembele – Barcelona

The 20-year-old is yet to make a name for himself at Barcelona due to injury troubles and all that but anybody who has seen him play for Borussia Dortmund will know that he is a dangerous player – for all the right reasons. He has quick feet and is very fast but boasts of excellent ball control at the same time. His crossing skills are absolutely top-notch and from what we have seen, he never backs down from a challenge. His passion and skill will take him far and it will be interesting to see how he fares for the Catalan giants.

2. Justin Kluivert – Ajax

Son of Patrick Kluivert, the 18-year-old has been a true revelation for the Dutch giants. He is a winger by trade and can play on either flank and is quite a threat despite being so young. Kluivert can capitalize even on the tiniest of gaps provided by the opposition and exploit the same relentlessly. The Dutchman can prove to be a nightmare for even the best defenders and he continues to get linked to a host of top-level clubs across Europe. Whether he chooses to move or not remains to be seen but there is no doubt that he is earmarked for a dazzling future.

1. Kylian Mbappe – Paris Saint-Germain

Mbappe rose to fame after AS Monaco’s spectacular Ligue 1 victory last season and his shine has not dulled even after completing a sensational, big-money move to Paris Saint-Germain at the start of the season. He is composed in front of the goal and is tactically intelligent as well, which is quite commendable since he is so young. At just 19 years of age, he can dribble and boss his way through the toughest of defences and he is already a force to be reckoned with. The young Frenchman has already scored 15 goals and provided 11 assists for PSG this season and he looks unstoppable.

(2015-16) Predictions For The Top 5 Leagues

With the footballing season just around the blocks, and transfers raining all over the clubs here are my predictions for the major leagues in the upcoming season.

  • Barclays English Premier League

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Arguably the best league in the world had an uncharacteristic tittle saga last season with Chelsea showing great defensive resolve in the second half, and with the start they had it was always their tittle to lose. This season promises to be different. Not many teams have been able to retain the Premier League in the past years (even the Invincibles failed to achieve it). So, It is going to be a mammoth task for Chelsea, but they surely have the team and the Manager for that.

Last year’s runner up City have got some additions in the attack, but until their defensive situation is managed it doesn’t look like they will be able to mount a title challenge. Manchester United and Liverpool have bought many players and only time will tell how they settle in the premier league. The team, which really looks like giving Chelsea the run for their money is Arsenal F.C. They had a very solid ending to the last season, having settled their goalkeeping woes with the signing of Petr Cech and they had a brilliant pre- season setting momentum for the season ahead.

So, In the premier league it looks like a close battle between Chelsea and Arsenal for the title, (could go up-till the last match week). I know I’d put my money on Arsenal. The remaining top 4 should also be a good battle between the Manchester Clubs and Liverpool.

  • Liga Nacional de Fútbol Profesional (La Liga)

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Historically being a two horse race, La Liga has found their third “dark” horse in Atletico Madrid. This summer Atletico Madrid has done some serious business with players like Jackson Martinez, Luciano Vietto added to their ranks. The loss of Adra Turan with surely haunt him and other midfielders will have to step up to make up for his absence.

Last season’s winners Barcelona have made a couple of signings who will only be able to play the second half of the season. Though the strength of the team still lies in the front 3 south American superstars. They would expect to start off the new season where they ended the last, scoring goals at will. Barca’s newly appointed captain Andres Iniesta will have to take up the mentor role which Xavi and Puyol had tremendously done before him.

The third horse of this race has a newly appointed manager in the dressing room and the kind of season Los Bloncos have will very much depend on Rafa Benitez. He needs to settle up the playing roles and positions of his superstar players Ronaldo and Bale. The onus will be on Sergio Ramos to take up Casillas’s leader role to post some serious threat to Barcelona’s tittle.

La Liga promises to be a great neck to neck battle between the three giants of Spanish and European football. At this moment Barcelona tips away with the title for me due to the stability they have in their team. (Expect some big upsets form Sevilla FC after their spree of intelligent buys).

  •  The Bundesliga

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For the past three years Bayern Munich have been running away with the Bundesliga title, and it wouldn’t be too early to say that they are surely on track to make it four in a row. They have made some good transfers by replacing Bastian Schweinsteiger with the fiery Chilean Arturo Vidal, who’s widely regarded as one the best midfielders in the world over the last few years. They also added Brazilian Douglas Costa to provide more cover on the wings after both Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben suffered injury-riddled campaigns. Basically, health is the only thing that can stop the Bayern machine from rolling onto yet another title. If they can finally get the likes of Robben, Ribery, David Alaba and Thiago Alcantara to play the full season, they should be virtually unstoppable.

The only other thing that can remotely come close to hindering Bayern in their aspirations is the surprise package of the last season Wolfsburg. They had a tremendous season scoring 72 goals only behind the champions Bayern who scored 80. The main goal of Wolfsburg now is to make sure the their instrumental playmaker Kevin De Bruyne stays in the squad.

Now coming from last year’s surprise to last year’s disappointment. Under their new coach Thomas Tuchel, Borussia Dortmund will be looking to dust off last season’s blues with a solid performance. The German core of Rues, Hummels and Gundogan have remained intact and will have to step up to their reputations.

Event though Bayern Munich looks very likely to retain their title, you never know with the game of football. A couple of injuries, a bad start and inspired performances from Wolfsburg could cause a big upset. May be Lord Bendtner could conjure up a miracle. It still is Bayern’s tittle to lose.

  • Serie A

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Going into the new Serie A season, it’s very easy to wonder if the Italian league is on the up. A Champions League final appearance of Juventus back in May showed that there’s still talent in the league, and this summer has seen the other sides strengthening significantly too. They’re closing in on the Premier League in the co-efficient table, looking to overtake them and regain their fourth Champions League spot.

Last season’s Champions Juventus have undergone a big change this summer. The side that guided them to the Champions League final has been torn apart, with some big stars moving on. They allowed Carlos Tevez to move back to Boca Juniors, while Arturo Vidal left for Bayern to fill the void left by Bastian Schweinsteiger. Andrea Pirlo also departed, heading for New York and MLS. They did respond in a pretty impressive way, signing the likes of Mario Mandzukic, Paulo Dybala, Sami Khedira and Simone Zaza. Keeping hold of Paul Pogba will be key and they seem in no mood to let go of their star man, despite rumours of huge bids from Barcelona, Real Madrid and Man City.

That said, there’s little to inspire you to back anyone else. The transfer window may have hit Juve hard, but they’ve bounced back. Roma lost Andrea Bertolacci to AC Milan, and no other side have had a major addition since then.

Juventus have no serious competition when it comes to the Serie A title, although you can always expect a miracle.

  • Ligue 1

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The league where rich gets richer. Paris Saint-Germain after clinching their third title in a row have added more firepower in their team with the scoops of Benjamin Stambouli and Di Maria. The rest of the championship-winning team is relatively unchanged – Yohan Cabaye and Thiago Motta are the only notable departures.

Lyon caught almost everyone by surprise as they finished runners-up to PSG last season. They did so in large part because of the incredible goal-scoring exploits of striker Alexandre Lacazette. The 24-year old Frenchman had a breakout season with 27 goals to lead all of Ligue 1. Keeping him on board will be their priority

Monaco has been a hotbed of transfer activity this season. Geoffrey Kondogbia and Yannick Ferreira Carrasco, two key contributors last season, were both sold off for eight-figure sums, and the funds from their sales were then re-invested in a host of young, up-and-coming talent. Veteran midfielders Joao Moutinho and Jeremy Toulalan are still around, though, and will provide a solid foundation to help the growing youth movement in the club.

PSG is very much on course to make it four seasons in a row and it would have to take something special to overthrow the Parisians from power. The onus is on the likes of Lyon, Monaco, St. Etienne to take PSG’s throne.

A guest blog by  Pratik Jha, read his articles at Derailed douchebaggery

“Van Gaal Would Destroy You” Barcelona Legend Warns Pedro Against Joining Manchester United

Manchester United Transfer News

Former Barcelona star Hristo Stoichkov has warned Barcelona’s Pedro against joining Manchester United and he also bashed Louis van Gaal as a mediocre manager who destroys football clubs.

Hristo Stoichkov with his Ballon d'Or award
Hristo Stoichkov with his Ballon d’Or award

Stoichkov, who played under Van Gaal when he was the manager of Barcelona, said,

“If he goes there he would no longer be a footballer. He is destroying all the players because he is so mediocre, players have left because of him. He destroys clubs, he did it with Barcelona, and after they take years to build. 

Pedro is a symbol of Barcelona, a type of player with energy, he fights to make himself great. Why do Barcelona need to sell him? “

The 1994 Ballon d’Or winner Stoichkov has made 336 appearances and scored 162 goals for the Catalan Giants.

Manchester United Fans Can Rejoice! Transfer Is Almost Done

Manchester United Transfer News

According to El Pais, “Pedro’s exit from Barcelona is near”. These reports suggested that sources close to Pedro (friends may be?) already knew about this deal and now they have revealed it to the media

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Pedro signed a new deal recently, in which he changed his clause to €30m if he did not feature in 60% of Barcelona’s games. As the condition was not satisfied, the Manchester-based side could sign him for a discounted fee. Louis Van Gaal has made it clear that he wants Pedro at Old Trafford in the upcoming days and the deal is expected to be completed very soon.

Fan Opposition To Qatar Goes Viral As Barcelona Involved

World Cup host Qatar is discovering the reputational risk involved in hosting high-profile mega sporting events. Qatar Airways’ sponsorship of FC Barcelona is producing exactly the kind of publicity that is a corporate sponsor’s worst nightmare while a Swiss investigation of the Qatari World Cup bid threatens to expose questionable financial dealings that will fuel demands for withdrawing the tournament from the Gulf state.

An online petition calling on FC Barcelona to ditch Qatar Airways as its shirt sponsor unless it ‘treats its workers fairly’ has collected within days more than 50,000 signatures.

The petition was launched in the wake of an International Labour Organization (ILO) report based on a year-long enquiry that accused the airline of gender discrimination with the backing of the government by retaining the contractual right to fire cabin crew that become pregnant and forbidding female employs to be dropped off at or picked up from company premises by a man other than their father, brother or husband.

To be fair Qatar Airways has addressed some but not all of the ILO’s concerns in changes to its employment contracts. The vast majority of the airlines’ cabin crews are women while migrant workers account for 90 percent of its work force.

“The women who work for Qatar Airways face an extremely grim reality: cabin crew are being exploited, imprisoned without charge, forcibly confined on company premises and automatically sacked if they become pregnant. These abuses are an everyday event not only in Qatar Airlines but in the Qatari national employment system,” the petition said.

“Barcelona’s millions of fans see the team as ‘more than a club’, revered not only for the quality of its players – like Neymar, Andrés Iniesta and of course, Lionel Messi – but for its allegiance to ethics, fairness and social justice. That’s why we’re asking the world’s most respected football club to cut ties with the airline until workers conditions improve,” it said.

Barcelona signed a €150m deal with Qatar Foundation for the 2011/12 season, which has since been replaced by Qatar Airways as the club’s shirt sponsor.

Beyond being a sponsor’s worst nightmare, the petition constitutes the first indication of a groundswell of fan opposition to Qatar’s hosting of the World Cup. Intermittent smaller protests in Britain focussed on the overall plight of migrant workers who constitute a majority of the Gulf state’s population and allegations that Qatar had bought the votes it need to win its hosting rights.

Allegations of wrongdoing in its bid have been fuelled as a result of the worst corruption scandal in the history of world soccer body FIFA that has sparked separate investigations in Switzerland and the United States where 14 people, including senior FIFA executives, have been indicted. Qatar has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

Switzerland’s attorney general disclosed this week that his investigation had flagged a total of 81 instances of possible money-laundering linked to the Qatari bid and that of Russia for the 2018 World Cup. The attorney general said that he was “very pleased with analysis work done by the Money Laundering Reporting Office Switzerland as it is of great support to the (Swiss) criminal proceedings.”

The groundswell of fan hostility towards Qatar coupled with the investigations undermines the very purpose of the Gulf state’s massive investment in the World Cup that was designed to brand it as a cutting-edge 21st century state and embed it in the international community in ways that other countries would come to its aid in an emergency.

Qatar’s model is the liberation of Kuwait from Iraqi occupation in 1991 by a US-led international coalition. The groundswell of fan hostility towards Qatar suggests that public opinion would be less sympathetic to Qatar, a tiny state incapable of mustering the hard power to defend itself on its own, than it was towards Kuwait.

Not to mention that sponsorship of Barcelona was intended to enhance Qatar Airways image as a five-star airline that connects continents via its hub in Doha. Beyond making good business sense, the airline is like sports a key pillar of Qatar’s soft power strategy that increasingly is struggling to achieve its goals.

To be sure, criticism of Qatar, including Qatar Airways, is fuelled as much by facts that the Gulf state has promised to address even if it largely has yet to match words with deeds as it is by prejudice, arrogance and ulterior motives.

The Barcelona petition comes as the Qatari airline alongside two other Gulf airlines, Emirates and Ettihad, both based in the UAE, is locked into battles with American carriers who allege that they have distorted competition by benefiting from tens of billions of dollars in government subsidies. The Gulf airlines have denied the allegation.

The complaint of the US airlines, who are unable to match the level of service of their Gulf competitors, in part because they face no competition in their lucrative domestic market, ignores the fact that they have repeatedly been bailed out of bankruptcy by US government support. The Financial Times recently calculated that over the years US airlines had benefitted from almost four times the $42 billion that they allege Gulf governments have invested in their airlines.

Nonetheless, recent responses to criticism from Qatar, angry at what it sees as a biased Islamo- and Arab-phobic campaign against it, have done little to further the Gulf state’s soft power goals.

“I don’t give a damn about the ILO – I am there to run a successful airline. This is evidence of a vendetta they have against Qatar Airways and my country,” Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker said last month in response to the ILO report.

A different response together with engagement with Barcelona fans may not have prevented the launching of the petition, but could have cast the debate in a different light – a move that would have made both political and commercial sense.

Guest blog by James M. Dorsey, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies as Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, co-director of the Institute of Fan Culture of the University of Würzburg and the author of the blog, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer, and a forthcoming book with the same title.

Transfer Boost For Chelsea As Barcelona Pull Out Of The Race For £44m Superstar

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Chelsea are now looking to take a lead in the race to sign Atletico Madrid sensation Koke after La Liga rivals Barcelona have pulled out of the race, according to recent reports. The Blues have kept tabs on the midfield genius for months and are preparing to make a bid for the Spaniard at the end of the season.

Barca were previously planning to make a deal for Koke for next January, waiting for their transfer embargo to be lifted, but recent reports say now that they have dropped the idea of signing him. This will allow the west London side to hold talks with the player and discuss terms about a possible move. Jose Mourinho wants more quality in his midfield and will want to bring the 23 year old to Stamford Bridge. The Spanish champions on the other hand will try to keep Koke, but a £44m offer could see the switch happen and the midfield superstar could be playing for the Premier League side soon.

Should Liverpool think of signing this Barcelona star?

The surge of players who will be available on a free keep on growing, one such player who is on top of some of the transfer wish lists is Barcelona right-back Dani Alves. Alves seems set to leave the Nou Camp after being at the club for almost 7 glittering years. Having won so many trophies at the club, it might be hard for the Brazilian to find another club which could provide him the chances of glory as much as Barcelona has.

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One club who is in the hunt for a new right back is Liverpool, with Glen Johnson seemingly on his way out, Liverpool are in need of some cover in that position. They might have the young Jon Flanagan and Andre Wisdom to come back into the team but they need some experience in that position and Dani Alves has truckloads of experience.

An aging superstar for the system?

Dani Alves might be one of the best attacking right backs in the world and he might be just the kind of player that fits Liverpool’s more dynamic and attacking system, but his age is one of the biggest factors which could scupper the deal from taking place.

Dani Alves is 31 years old, although he can do a very good job, Liverpool do have a policy of not having players above 30 or just giving them one year rolling contracts. At this stage of his career, Alves might be looking at something which is more long term.

Liverpool also have a pay structure for their older players and they certainly would not be able to afford Alves, sure he might take a pay cut but he probably does not need to do that, there are various clubs out there that still want to secure his services. The prime example which should help Alves make up his mind is the case of Steven Gerrard and Glen Johnson who both have had rather pressing times in trying to sign a contract with Liverpool.

More than anything, Liverpool need a right back who is able to not only attack but defend really well as well. Dani Alves might be one of the best attacking right backs in the world but his defensive ability is still in question, something similar to Glen Johnson but he is better than GJ in the attacking third as well. He still can do a very good job for a lot of clubs, but he isn’t the fit that Liverpool need.

Former Barcelona Man Refers To Manchester United Star As “Best In The World”

The former Spain and Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes who has just joined Manchester United recently has halled his Manchester United team-mate and first choice keeper as the best goalkeeper in the world. The Spaniard who has just signed an 18 month loan deal with the club has gone ahead and made this statement. Valdes who has been recovering from a long term knee injury and was training with Manchester United for the past few months has just recently signed the contract with them. The Red Devils were also quite pleased with the 32 year old keeper signing for them and will hope that he can help them win some major trophies.

Valdes will be expected to push De Gea even harder as he will give him a tough competition for a place in the starting eleven. Valdes has clearly acknowledged that the task at hand will not be easy as he is up against the best in the world, he feels. Valdes feels De Gea is simply better than his goalkeeping rivals Manuel Neuer and Iker Casillas and in an interview mentioned the same. He was quoted saying, “I think now, in this moment, David is the best goalkeeper in the world. His performances every day and in every game show people that his level is very high. He has had a great year and it is very nice. Now I think he is the best goalkeeper in the world.”

The Spaniard has made 114 appearances for United since he joined the club in 2011 and has really improved immensely this season. Real Madrid see him as the perfect replacement for Casillas and have been in the hunt for him for a long time now. On the other hand, United have offered him another new contract to secure his services for an even longer period of time.