Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hleb to Stuttgart, Caceres to Juventus in Loan Deals

Barcelona players Aliaksandr Hleb(27) and Martin Caceres(21) have officially joined Stuttgart and Juventus on loan deals.

Hleb was originally meant to be a part of the deal with Inter on Ibrahimovich. However, he suffered the same problem that he has at Barcelona all this time - he is too lazy to learn the language. Also, since he has played at Stuttgart for five years, he will be familiar with the surroundings.

Stuttgart will pay his entire salary for the duration of the loan, which is of one year.

Caceres meanwhile has joined Juventus on a year long deal which also includes a purchase clause of 10-12 million euros at the end. With central defenders of the calibre of Cannavaro and Chiellini in the Juventus squad, young Caceres could learn a lot.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Friday, July 24, 2009

Ibra-Eto'o Swap Deal Officially Confirmed



Barcelona have confirmed an accord has been reached between both clubs and with the players. Barcelona have also hinted that Ibrahimovic may be unveiled on Monday.

Juan Oliver, who left Inter's offices after completing the deal told Sky Sport Italia, "The deal between both clubs is done. That goes for [Aliaksandr] Hleb too."

The Barcelona director has been thrashing out final details in Milan, and he will now return to the Spanish city in order to present Ibrahimovic with the transfer documents.

One final brick needs to be laid for the deal to become concrete and that is the signature block.

Barcelona's Txiki Begiristain has also confirmed the deal is in place and Ibrahimovic needs to put pen to paper.

"We have an agreement with the player and with Inter, and we are now preparing the documents," Begiristain told Sport.es.

"The transfer paper is in Milan as our directors there are negotiating it with Inter. We are trying to do things as fast as possible and he [Ibrahimovic] could be unveiled on Monday."

It is suggested both clubs will announce the deal as official once both men sign and rubber stamp their respective contracts.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Keirrison : I Am Good Enough for Barca, Loan Move Not a Problem


K9’ believes he has what it takes to play for Barca, but acknowledged that he would accept the club’s decision to send him out on loan…
Keirrison will land in Barcelona today [Thursday] to sign his contract and officially complete his move to the Camp Nou from Palmeiras.

It has been speculated, however, that he will be immediately shipped out on loan, possibly to Benfica or Porto, in order to learn the ropes of European football. And the 20-year-old has confessed that he would have no objections, although he assured that he is ready to play for ‘El Tricampeon’ now.

“I’m happy to be part of Barca and I know I am at the right level to play for them,” he said in an interview with Sport prior to his flight to Catalunya.

“I am well prepared, although it is always necessary to refine your game because football is a dynamic sport. I know that once I leave my country, I will grow a lot.

“I think it will be good to go on loan to learn more about European football. I do not see any problems with this. I know that the club are only doing this to prepare me. I accept that just fine and I will be ready when that time comes,” he added.

K9, as he is affectionately known, is confident that it will not be too big a leap to go from Brazilian football to playing for the Blaugrana as he believes his style fits perfectly to the club’s footballing philosophies.

“Barca are the best team in the world. I know that I can contribute a lot with hard work,” he reasoned.

“It brings me immense joy just to be at a club with such greatness and with so many fantastic players, such as Lionel Messi. I have full admiration for him.

“Personally, I have many different styles and I can adapt to whatever the coach wants from me. And when you play alongside great players, it makes everything easier.”

Barcelona Interested in Afellay



There is speculation that Barcelona could be interested in signing Dutch midfielder Ibrahim Afellay (23) from PSV Eindhowen.

Afellay is being looked on as another possible candidate for the wings. Barcelona have got glowing scouting reports on him from former players Ronald Koeman and Marc Overmars.

Following Pep Guardiola's assertion that he is looking to buy a cheap yet quality midfielder, it seems Afellay fits the bill perfectly. He could also be a great signing for the future.

Among Afellay's strengths are dribbling skills, incredible shot power and a good physical presence.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Getting Out of Hand


This situation is so not appreciated, and is getting out of hand. I have had to delete quite a few comments and enable comment moderation. And since I am busy with college and everything, you will now find a very irritating time lag before your comment is published.

I never wanted to enable comment moderation and only Google account commenting on this blog, but well, some people are just here to mess about.

Anyway, I want to make it clear that only intelligent discussion will be promoted in comments here. Any rubbish goes *zap* into oblivion.

And to whoever posted links to this blog on fcbtransfers, thanks but no thanks. I do not need to publicise my blog in that fashion.

Mascherano Would Be Pleased To Join Barcelona - Agent



The agent of Argentinean midfielder Javier Mascherano has reportedly reiterated the player's wish to leave Liverpool for Barcelona.

Walter Tamer, Mascherano's representative, was the man who initially revealed his client would be open to a move to Spain over the summer. Reds manager Rafael Benitez was quick to dismiss any talk of the Argentina international leaving Anfield as the holding midfielder is central to the club's future plans.

But more quotes attributed to Tamer have emerged, citing personal reasons involving Mascherano's family for the player's apparent disillusionment on Merseyside.

"Barcelona is the easiest deal to set up as Javier wants to go to Spain. He is tired of life in England," Tamer said, according to South American website Infobae.com.

"His wife has not been given a permanent visa. She has to go through an odyssey each time she wants to go [out of the country].

"Liverpool refuse to sell, [but] this can be overcome with an extraordinary offer."

Barcelona are yet to make a concrete offer for Mascherano.

Eto'o Agrees Terms With Inter


Samuel Eto'o has agreed personal terms with Inter Milan, report all Italian media.

He will reportedly sign a five year contract worth 10 million euros a year, with a 2 million bonus for any trophy that Inter might win over the course of the season.

President Massimo Moratti met with the player’s agent, Josep Maria Mesalles, at the club’s new headquarters in Corso Vittorio Emanuele, and it is suggested that Eto’o himself helped break the deadlock.

La Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Eto’o talked with Inter technical director Marco Branca on the phone in the afternoon, saying he was enthusiastic about joining the Biscione. Indeed, Eto'o also reportedly stated that he is ready to bring the Champions League trophy back to the San Siro.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Why the Signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic Will Add a New Dimension to Barcelona's Attack


Many Barcelona fans, neutrals and haters alike, are wondering why the signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic is even taking place. Why, they say, is Barcelona trying to sell off a proven goal-scorer, a man who has scored in two Champions League finals and who has also built up an on the pitch understanding with Xavi, Iniesta and Messi?

In short, why are they changing something that works?

The most popular "pro-Eto'o" comment that one hears is,"Oh, but he scored more goals than Ibrahimovic did last season! And he scores in the Champions League knockouts!"

Yes, Eto'o scored more goals in La Liga than Ibrahimovic did in the Serie A. However, you need to see how their individual teams performed as well. Barcelona scored 105 goals in the Liga. This means that Eto'o scored about 28 percent of his team's goals. Inter scored 70 goals in the Serie A. This means that Ibrahimovic scored about 36 percent of his team's goals.

Who is more efficient?

People also seem to forget very easily that Eto'o has some of the best midfield support that a team can offer. With classy players like Xavi and Iniesta providing supply, any top striker would find it easy to score 30 goals for Barcelona.

On the other hand, Ibrahimovic has had to create most of his chances himself, and out of nowhere. A quick look at his goals shows that Ibrahimovic has rarely got the sort of tap ins that Eto'o is accustomed to being supplied with. A lot of his goals are audacious strikes from way outside the area.

Eto'o has very little dribbling and ball technique. He can score if the ball is provided to him in the box and the keeper is slightly out of position. However, if the keeper makes himself big and stands his ground, Eto'o even manages to miss one-on-ones. A shocking statistic from last season is that Eto'o missed 3 penalties out of 5.

Ibrahimovic is a technically strong striker. He can create a chance for himself, and can also finish from long range. He can dribble into the box and can also deliver deadly crosses when required.

Most importantly, Ibrahimovic gives Barcelona something that Eto'o can never provide - strong aerial ability. Ibrahimovic is very strong in the air because of his height and will be very useful, especially when Alves bombs in crosses from the right flank.

A lot of people complain about Ibrahimovic's ego, something I personally used to find as a stumbling block. However, after seeing the behaviour of Eto'o and his agent this summer, I don't think any more trouble can be caused by another player.

Also, since he has never won the Champions League, Ibrahimovic will be committed and determined to do his best with Barcelona in order to win the coveted trophy.

Summarising, therefore, we can see the following about Ibrahimovic :

PROS
  • Very strong in the air, something Barcelona need badly.
  • Technically very strong.
  • Powerful and accurate shot.
  • Can create chances for himself.
  • Eager to win the Champions League, hence will be committed and driven.
CONS
  • Supposedly egocentric.
  • Not as fast as Eto'o.
As we can see, the pros far outweigh the cons, especially when you consider the aerial threat that gets added to Barcelona's squad. Hence, I personally feel the Ibrahimovic detractors need to look at the bigger picture and not just at the number of goals he and Eto'o have scored.

Camp Nou in the Sea?


Barcelona could be playing on their own island off the coast of the Catalan capital in a new 150,000-capacity stadium if a local architect were to have his way.

Emili Vidal has laid out ambitious plans to build the European champions a new arena that would stun the world of football and change the face of the Blaugrana.

La Vanguardia report that the visionary came up with the plans because he feels that the model of renovation that the club has accepted from Sir Norman Foster for Camp Nou is not enough.

While access problems will remain if the club stayed at their current location, Vidal's proposal would see the number of seats rise by over half if he was able to build a new stadium.

Situated in front of the Forum at the Diagonal Mar end of the city, the structure would stand on a man-made island off the coast and be accessible via a bridge.

Vidal may recognise that his idea may never come to fruition, but it has stirred the debate about what steps to take with the current stadium once again.

Ibrahimovic Yet to Talk to Barca



Zlatan Ibrahimovic is yet to talk to Barcelona regarding personal terms, despite there being an agreement in place between Barcelona and Inter Milan.

His agent (incidentally, the same as Maxwell's) is quoted as saying to ANSA,"The two clubs have found an agreement, now we'll see. As Zlatan said, if there really is a concrete interest, the deal could be done. But I have not yet spoken with Barcelona, I haven't been involved in any negotiation, I haven't signed anything, I didn't do anything so far."

However, there is no cause for undue worry, as this merely means that Ibrahimovic and Barcelona will be sitting down to talk, and will probably agree on a contract very quickly.

The only possible pitfall to this deal is Eto'o rejecting the contract with Inter.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Ibrahimovic : Barcelona Proposal "Interesting"



Zlatan Ibrahimovic's future has been in doubt all summer and the Spanish press recently revealed that he was the subject of a mega-money bid by treble-winners Barcelona.

The 27-year-old was Capocannoniere in Serie A last year, pipping Diego Milito and Marco Di Vaio at the finish line with a cheeky goal against Atalanta.

Inter are currently on a pre-season tour in the United States and he told the press that he is not getting excited by the transfer speculation.

"I have spoken with [agent] Mino Raiola - I am calm," he is quoted as saying by Sky Sport Italia. "I have been aware of talks going on between Barcelona and Inter, but I thought those were about Maxwell. "If Barcelona's offer is concrete, then this becomes more interesting," he concluded.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ibrahimovic Deal Unofficially Confirmed



Inter Milan technical director has said that Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be a Barcelona player in the 2009-10 season.

Though Inter president Moratti said earlier today that a deal had not been reached yet, fresh developments coming from Italy suggest that Ibrahimovic's deal has been confirmed.

When asked about the future of his star player, Luis Suarez, Inter technical director said,"I did not conduct the negotiations myself, but yes, I can tell you that Zlatan Ibrahimovic will play for Barcelona next season".

He also said that Barcelona will be the ones who will profit from the deal, because,"Zlatan is individually a better football player than Samuel Eto'o."

He ended the interview by saying that Hleb's part in the deal could not be confirmed yet.

Agreement with Inter on Ibrahimovic



Barcelona have reportedly agreed on the signing of Swedish frontman Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Inter Milan.

The president's of both clubs, Joan Laporta and Massimo Moratti met in Milan and the deal was agreed a little after midnight on Friday, 17th July.

The move also sees Samuel Eto'o and Hleb moving to Inter Milan. The deal is valued at 40 million euros+Samuel Eto'o+Aliaksandr Hleb on one year loan.

Among the newspapers giving wide coverage to this deal are Sport, El Mundo Deportivo and Sky Sport 24.

If officially confirmed this is Barcelona's second signing of the summer and also the second in the space of two days.

Needless to say, Barcelona have sprung another surprise with how quickly they seem to have wrapped up this deal. At this rate, Barcelona is still way ahead of Real Madrid in terms of quality.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Villa's Agent to Negotiate Again With Valencia



Jose Luis Tamargo, David Villa's agent and representative, will be calling president Manuel Llorente on Friday to clarify the club's position on Villa's move to the Camp Nou.

Tamargo's main objective will be to ask Villa's asking price in order to relay it to the Barcelona board so they can choose to meet the valuation, if they so wish. Villa's assertion that he would take a pay cut to fund the move will also help a probable deal.

In the event that Valencia declare Villa as "untransferable", Tamargo will then ask them why they were ready to put the player on the market not less than a month ago, when Real Madrid were interested.

Barcelona Interested in Christian Poulsen



Barcelona are reportedly interested in Danish midfielder Christian Poulsen (29) of Juventus.

The player's agent reportedly told a Danish football site that Barcelona have approached Juventus on the possibility of a deal. He also said that though at present, Poulsen was concentrating on Juventus, Barcelona would be a very attractive proposition which he would find very hard to refuse.

It is unclear what role Poulsen would play if he moves to Barcelona. With the abundance of midfield talent in Xavi, Iniesta, Toure, Keita, Busquets and upcoming star Thiago, it seems difficult to imagine Poulsen getting too much playing time.

He could however be used as a backup when the African Cup of Nations starts in January.

Quote to Sum up Barca - courtesy Pep Guardiola


We are strikers who defend, we are defenders who attack, we are speed, we are strength, we are effort, we are precision, we are as one... We are Barça
- Josep "Pep" Guardiola i Sala

The Barcelona Board Surprises Everyone: What a Steal


Barcelona have completed a signing that has taken everyone by surprise.

Albeit, a pleasant one.

In this age of Perez-esque prices, Barcelona have pulled off a major coup by signing proven Inter left wingback Maxwell for a measly price of just 4 million euros.

With Deportivo president Lendoiro demanding an arm and a leg for Filipe Luis, it was inevitable that Barcelona would be linked with several other players for the left fullback position. Andre Santos and Monreal were two of the players whose names were thrown into the ring, while Filipe himself kept pushing for a transfer.

At one point, a deal for Filipe looked so certain that he was not included in Deportivo's pre-season group photo.

However, it seems that Barcelona have finally lost patience with Deportivo's demands. This move comes as a pleasant surprise. Not only because it was completely unexpected, but also because :

a. Maxwell is an experienced player who fits into Barcelona's style of play perfectly.

b. The price - At a cost of 4 million euros, Barcelona have managed to procure a fine left back, who can act as cover and as a starter. This is less than half the price of Filipe which Barcelona were willing to pay.

c. Maxwell will be eager to prove himself after being sidelined for long spells at Inter.

d. He can play at left back, left wingback, left mid and defensive mid, so he is versatile.

Naturally, there are some pitfalls, like his age and injury proneness, but none of that can take away the fact that he will perfectly integrate into Barcelona's hold and pass the ball system.

All credit, thus, to the Barcelona board, for pulling off a brilliant move in all respects. It will be interesting to see Maxwell plying his trade at the Camp Nou next season.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Maxwell Confirmed as First Barcelona Signing


Inter Milan left wing-back Maxwell Scherer (28) has signed for Barcelona. This news has been confirmed by the official Barcelona website.

It is reported that Maxwell will sign a five year deal, paying him 3.7 million euros a year. The transfer fee is reportedly close to 4 million euros.

The main factor that has contributed to this deal is Deportivo president Lendoiro's insistence of 20 million euros for Filipe Luis.

PS - This is VERY good news for Barcelona.

Barcelona To Sell Mini Estadi


Barcelona have reached an agreement with the Catalan government to sell their Mini Estadi in order to see the land converted into flats, a hotel, a school and open spaces.

The Catalan giants have moved all their teams to the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper on the outskirts of the city and no longer have any use for the 16,000-all seater arena.

President Joan Laporta struck a deal with the city mayor, Jordi Hereu, to use the site across the road from the Camp Nou complex to improve the local area around the ground.

While the Mini Estadi was the home of the Blaugrana's B side, Barca Atletic, they will now play at the training ground along with all the junior and youth teams.

Barca had had plans to sell off the land for many years, but agreeing a deal has always had hold-ups - and even now there could be objections to some of the plans. Along with flats, there will be a hotel, a series of parks and gardens, a nursery school and secondary school as well as a health centre to lift the zone.

Eto'o to Join Up With Squad For Pre-Season



Samuel Eto'o will join the Barcelona squad for the pre-season training from 27th July, reports Sport.

Eto'o has been heavily linked with a move away from Barcelona, but with each of his suitors dropping out of the race to sign him, there is a possibility that he will stay on at the Camp Nou.

Manchester City, Manchester United and AC Milan were among the clubs looking to secure Eto'o's signature, but they have all declined to pursue their interest in the Cameroonian hitman.

Llorente Says Villa Will Be Given Love and Affection


David Villa has been linked with football away from the Mestalla, with Barcelona now believed to be the only interested party after Real Madrid's signing of Karim Benzema.

The player had a meeting with Valencia president, Manuel Llorente, on Monday, in which he reportedly restated his desire to link up with Barca.

Llorente has now stated that during the conversation with Villa, the player was told "how important he is" for the club.

"He has the mentality of a professional footballer of Valencia; we have to treat him with affection, because he is an important player, so we have to take good care of him while he is here," he told reporters.

Meanwhile, Llorente has declared that he has never negotiated the services of Villa with Barcelona. "I have never spoken with anyone about the price for Villa, only when we were in talks with Real Madrid," he noted.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

"Ribery Has No Price, Will Stay" - Hoeness



Bayern are determined not to let Franck Ribery leave the club at any price and have stated that they would not even consider a bid of €70 million.

The Bundesliga giants were reportedly prepared to consider huge offers for their star player, but general manager Uli Hoeness has dismissed that notion by claiming that he will not leave at any price.

Ribery has attracted the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal this summer and now Bayern want the saga to end with a firm announcement.

"He will certainly stay," he was quoted as saying by TZ. "We are not prepared to talk, not even for €70 million or more."

Ribery pulled out of training with Bayern for the second time this week and rumours suggested that it was due to ongoing talks about a move away from the club, but Hoeness was adamant that was also not true. "If he is injured he is injured. Just like anybody else," he added.

Pep Guardiola Tells Villa Barcelona are Willing to Wait for Him


Pep Guardiola has told David Villa that Barcelona will wait for him and will not seek to sign a new striker while talks at boardroom level continue with Valencia, according to a report.

Guardiola is adamant that the Spain international is the player that he wants to lead his new-look front-line next term after deciding that he does not want Samuel Eto'o.

Earlier reports indicated that Valencia were ready to prevent Villa from leaving, but the club are now being quoted as saying they would accept a higher offer.

El Mundo Deportivo states that Guardiola spoke to the player on the telephone and said "we will wait for you" - and that has lifted Villa's spirits.

A deal looked set to be done last week, but Llorente has since decided that he wants more than the €40 million that is on the table from the Barca.

Villa only wants to play for Barcelona now and El Mundo Deportivo believe that he has made that clear to Llorente, who reportedly told him last summer that he could go this year.

Barcelona and Madrid Players Have Different Ambitions


Laporta : Cristiano Ronaldo says he wants to win the Ballon d'Or with Real Madrid. Benzema also says the same thing.
Fortunately, all Xavi and Iniesta want to do is win another triplet for Barca.

Alberto Botia To Join Sporting


Catalan paper Sport has revealed that Sporting have completed the signing of Barcelona Atletic central defender Alberto Botia.

The signing was reportedly slightly complicated because Botia's contract, which expired next season, had to be renewed first, before any transfer deals could be closed.

Sport also states that this deal could have come through because Barcelona are about to sign Villarreal C midfielder Miguel Angel Luque Santiago.


Lionel Messi Given Special Schedule to Keep Fit and Fine


Lionel Messi will once again be Barcelona’s leading star player for the 2009/10 campaign and if the club thought the Argentine had a hectic season last term, it could get even worse this time around, reports Goal.com.

All in all, ‘El Mesias’ made 51 competitive club appearances last campaign, scoring 38 goals and providing 18 assists, while he also played a handful of other matches with the Argentine national team, including a gruelling trip to Beijing for the Olympic Games.

For the new season, the Blaugrana will be fighting for six titles in total, which will include a trip to Abu Dhabi in December for the FIFA Club World Cup. And to make sure that the 22-year-old is ready to play another 60 odd games, the club will implement a strict regimen to maintain peak fitness throughout the exhaustive football calendar.

According to Sport, Barca will closely monitor and supervise every expect of Messi’s life from his diet to his rest period to his training regimes as well as issue a long list of guidelines to prevent him from suffering physical and mental burn-outs.

It is also believed that he will have his own physiotherapist, Juanjo Brau, with him at all times, whether he’s in Catalunya or Bueno Aires, to keep him in optimal condition and avoid any niggling muscular injuries.

Barca are also somewhat concerned that Messi will become too obsessed with the Argentine national team, first and foremost to help them qualify for the 2010 World Cup and then to push himself to help the team win the tournament next summer.

But the club are confident that Los Albicelestes, and in particular his coach, Diego Maradona, will play their part to look after ‘Little Lionel’. The Blaugrana had already reportedly sent a note of gratitude to Maradona for collaborating with the Catalan side last season and taking an interest in Messi’s well-being.

Filipe Luis Left Out of Deportivo Photo Shoot


Barcelona could be given an opening to go for the kill and snap up Filipe Luis, after the attacking left-back was surprisingly left out of Deportivo’s official pre-season photo shoot.
According to Marca and Sport, the Brazilian was inexplicably missing from the final group picture despite his club reiterating that they would not sell the player if the Blaugrana could not meet the asking price.

Filipe has already publicly declared that he wants a move to the Camp Nou, and his omission from the photo could suggest that SuperDepor may now be resigned to losing the 23-year-old at some point this summer.

The full-back - who spent one season on loan at Real Madrid B four years ago - did, however, train with the rest of the squad during yesterday’s session.

Depor are reportedly still holding out for a transfer fee of around €14 million, but Barca so far have only gone as high as €9m.

No End in Sight Yet For Villa Saga


David Villa's meeting with Manuel Llorente has not achieved any major breakthroughs, reports Sport.

According to reports, Villa clearly stated his desire to play for the Blaugrana next season. However, Valencia have deemed Barcelona's bid of 40 million euros to be unacceptable.

Marca states that Valencia would only be willing to sell Villa for 50 million euros. It remains to be seen how Barcelona will react to the latest developments.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Samuel Eto'o's Exit in Question



With club after club dropping out of the race for Samuel Eto'o, it is very likely that he will be spending next season at Barcelona.

On Friday, Manchester City had made it clear that they were unwilling to continue their pursuit of the Cameroonian hitman.

Now, Barcelona's attempts to offload Eto'o have been met with another blow. City's rivals Manchester United have stated that they will not be following up their interest in the striker.

Now, it seems that Eto'o's only likely destination could be Milan. There is speculation that Manchester City have approached Milan's primary transfer target Luis Fabiano. In that case, there is a chance that Milan might make an offer for Eto'o.

However, as things stand right now, Samuel Eto'o will still be leading Barcelona's attack next season.

Man City Trying to Tempt Puyol



Manchester City owner Sulayman Al-Fahim has targetted El Capitan in a bid to strengthen his club's defense.

According to El Mundo, the reason Puyol has not yet signed a deal with Barcelona is that Manchester City have made a new multi-million euro proposal. According to this, Puyol would get a salary of 8 million euros net for a period of three years.

The paper also goes onto say that Puyol is no longer as indespensible to Barcelona as he once was. The club's pursuit of Chirginskyi and Bruno Alves has given more ground to these rumours.

It is of course, possible that Puyol will accept Barcelona's renewal offer. However, there is also a possibility that he will not renew this year, like Pep Guardiola, and stay on till 2010, after which he would take a call on his future again.

Barcelona Atletic Players in Pre Season



The lack of new entries has forced Pep Guardiola to include several Barcelona Atletic players in the squad for at least the London stage of the pre-season, from July 21st to 26th, reports
Sport.

Many of the international players of Barcelona's first team will also not be in this leg of the pre-season. Xavi, Busquets, Puyol, Piqué and Dani Alves played the Confederations Cup, while Messi also has a few more days of rest. Bojan Krkic, who played the European under21 in Sweden, also has permission to begin later.

This means that for the London stage, Guardiola will not have seven of his senior members, and hence he has had to pull a few players from the junior team.

Players like Jonathan dos Santos, Gai Assulin, Rochin, Botía, Oier, Miño, Espasandín, Font and Thiago could thus have their chance this summer.

Manuel Pellegrini : Barcelona Are The Team to Beat

Real Madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini has acknowledged that bitter rivals Barcelona are still the team to beat next season, despite his own club's spending spree.

The Chilean coach has enjoyed his first training sessions of pre-season after taking charge at the Santiago Bernabeu this summer and summed up what he expects from the season ahead.

Arch rivals Barcelona swept the board last term and sparked a major spending spree at Madrid that means that they must challenge for all three trophies this term.

"Barcelona proved to have a great team by winning three titles. They have a permanent philosophy and quality men," Pellegrini was quoted as saying to Marca.

"We will try to be better than Barcelona and the rest of the teams. You can't afford to disregard any side because there are always several strong contenders for the title.

"There will also be a great challenge for us in Europe."

Pellegrini also stated that he would like his own team to play attractive and attacking football next season, football which, in his words, would "thrill the fans".

FIFPro Supports Ribery On Bayern Exit


The international players' union (FIFPro) has shown its support for the French international Franck Ribéry of Bayern Munich and has sent a protest to the European Commission and FIFA on the grounds that the club limits the free movement of the player.


FIFPro announced on its website that Bayern president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge recently acknowledged that "the clubs belonging to the European Club Association (ECA), which since January 2008 represents a 153-team had made a mutual pact partly to obviate the article 17 of FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players. "

FIFPro said that, according to Rummenigge, president of ACE, "this would mean that after the stabilization period of three years Ribéry could not rescind his contract to go to another club, which runs as provided in Article 17 of the Rules of FIFA, under which it would be possible. "

The union recalled that Ribéry, strongly sought by Barcelona, plays at Bayern since 2007 and his contract ends in 2011.

The player could, in accordance with Article 17, unilaterally terminate his contract after the period of stability for three years, after which the Bayern would be compensated only by an amount based on the residual value of the contract Ribéry, which in this case amounts to an annual salary.

"FIFPro considers that this restriction of free movement is illegal. The world players' union is calling for the intervention of the European Commission in this matter. In addition to going to ask FIFA to enforce compliance of the Rules," announced the union chairs the Spanish Gerardo Gonzalez Movilla.

FIFPro's attorney, Wil van Megen said: "If the clubs are free to ignore the FIFA regulations, valid in the whole world from now on it will be impossible to maintain the international legal system within football."

"In anticipation of a strong reaction from the European Commission, FIFPro takes to show their support for Franck Ribéry. A player who, in accordance with Article 17, should have the freedom to choose the club of their dreams" concludes the reporting of FIFPro.

This ruling could give a strong push to Ribery's much anticipated move to either Barcelona or Real Madrid.