SHOULDN’T SOUTHGATE CONSIDER POTENTIAL OPPONENTS AHEAD OF BELGIUM CLASH?

With Belgium and England through to the next stage of the World Cup, there are few worries ahead of their dead rubber game on Thursday. The only concern for the managers would be which players to give opportunities and which to rest ahead of the knockout stages.

Both teams would be seeking to finish top of the group for sake of pride. However, there is another issuethat the managers could consider. With Japan and Colombia potential opponents from Group H, we know who we’d rather face.
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Sky Sports pundit updates on Ousmane Dembele’s situation

Sky Sport football expert Guillem Balague believes Barcelona could consider the departure of Ousmane Dembele on a temporary basis for the 2018/19 season. The French footballer has witnessed a stop-start season with Barcelona – which has been hampered by injuries – but he has still managed to make France’s squad for the summer World Cup.

Recent reports have suggested that Dembele could find himself out-of-favour at Camp Nou next term with the Blaugrana keen on acquiring the signature of Atletico’s Antoine Griezmann. As such, Balague feels Dembele could leave the Catalan giants, though it may only be on a temporary basis, he said: “My understanding of the situation is they will let him go on loan. Right now, who is going to pay 100m euros for him anyway? As I said, they will let him go on loan though.”
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Barcelona Change Their Stance On Selling Thomas Vermaelen

Spanish heavyweights Barcelona have reportedly changed their stance on selling Thomas Vermaelen at the end of the current campaign. The Belgium international has just a year left on his current contract but the Blaugrana are prepared to discuss terms over an extended deal, Mundo Deportivo reports.

Vermaelen had initially been tipped to leave the Camp Nou giants during the previous summer transfer window but new boss Ernesto Valverde decide to keep hold of his services. Since then, the versatile defender has put in a number of top-notch performances, most especially during the festive period where he had to cover up for the injured Samuel Umtiti. Continue reading Barcelona Change Their Stance On Selling Thomas Vermaelen

Guillem Balague Insists Samuel Umtiti Is Playing A Two-Card Game

Sky Sports football expert Guillem Balague believes Samuel Umtiti is playing a two-card game in order to earn a new bumper contract at Barcelona. The France international has stressed his ambition to stay at the Camp Nou despite reports suggesting that he wants to treble his current wages of £50,000-a-week.

 

Speaking on Sky Sports, Balague said: “What is absolutely true at the moment is that Samuel Umtiti is playing a two-card game, on the one hand he is telling Barcelona he would like to stay but on the other he wants to treble his wages. It’s not normal for a player in their second season at Barcelona to renew their contract just because Manchester United reportedly wants to trigger his €60m buy-out clause. At this moment in time negotiations have stopped and right now Barcelona are less positive than they were in the past, but there is still a long way to go.”

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Thomas Vermaelen: Lionel Messi is better than ‘world-class’ Eden Hazard

Barcelona defender Thomas Vermaelen has said that Lionel Messi is on a different level to Eden Hazard despite the latter becoming the go-to player in the Chelsea ranks. The former Arsenal man is set to return to London this week when the Catalan giants face-off against the Blues in the Champions League round of 16 first-leg.


In an interview with The Guardian, the experienced centre-back was asked to compare the individual abilities of Hazard and Messi. Though he initially admitted that there are similarities in their style of play, the 32-year-old stressed it is difficult to place him into the calibre of Messi, who has five Ballon d’Or titles to his name.
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Thomas Vermaelen confident injury problems are behind him

Belgium international Thomas Vermaelen is looking forward to contributing towards Barcelona’s success after having overcome his concerns with regular injuries. The former Arsenal man started the campaign as the fourth-choice defender, but injuries to Javier Mascherano and Samuel Umtiti have enabled him cement a regular role in central defence alongside Gerard Pique.

In an interview with Mundo Deportivo, Vermaelen is pleased to have gone unscathed for more than a year, and he is aiming to integrate into prove his worth to the Catalan giants, he said: “I understand that people had doubts about my physical condition because in recent years I have had a few physical problems. But since November 2016 I have not had any more problems and I’ve been feeling good for a year. I know I have a reputation as a player made of glass, but I have managed to overcome that. I knew I had the ability to play for Barca but in previous years, due to injuries, I had not been able to show what I am capable of.”
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Ernesto Valverde calm over Antoine Griezmann speculation

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde refused to discuss the possibility of signing Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann in the New Year. The Catalans had been hot on the trail of both Philippe Coutinho and Angel di Maria during the dying stages of the summer transfer window, but a deal could not materialise for either player.

Ahead of the Leganes clash, Valverde admired the qualities of Griezmann and revealed that the club have not closed the door on pursuing fresh recruits in January, he said: “Griezmann is a great player, one of the names being talked about but for now I have the players that I have. In the future, we will see. Of course, the club, like all clubs, is open to doing business in the January window, even though we’re happy with what we already have. We’re not going to close the door on anything.”
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Inter Milan set sights on signing Thomas Vermaelen

Inter Milan have reportedly set their sights on signing Barcelona defender Thomas Vermaelen as they look to bolster their central defensive department in the New Year. The Nerazzurri currently have Milan Skriniar, Joao Miranda, and Andreas Ranocchia as the only senior centre-backs in the club’s ranks.

According to TMW, Luciano Spalletti’s side have earmarked Vermaelen as their top defensive target for January as they look to maintain their strong start to the campaign. The San Siro outfit are currently just two points adrift of league leaders Napoli, and the manager is hoping to add more options to the defence in order to avoid burnout in the second half of the season.
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Arsene Wenger: Barcelona playing in the Premier League would be difficult

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has admitted that it would be difficult for English clubs, if Barcelona were to join the Premier League in the future.


Catalonia is currently pushing through its independence referendum from Spain, and Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu admitted this week that the Camp Nou outfit could end their association with La Liga.

In response to this, Wenger joked that he would ‘try to learn Catalan’ and said: “If Barcelona want to join the Premier League, it makes things even more difficult for everybody. I don’t think they have gotten as far as that. It is interesting and there will be incidents on the sporting side as Barcelona are a highly political club. I think it will be interesting to see how they respond in the championship. We have enough clubs here with 20 but if you want to go up to 24, we have to invite the Scottish clubs before we go for the Spanish.”

The English Football League has previously proposed including the likes of Rangers and Celtic in the English division, and SPFL chief Neil Doncaster admitted earlier in June that there is the prospect of the Old Firm playing in England. Continue reading Arsene Wenger: Barcelona playing in the Premier League would be difficult

Everton failed with deadline day move for Thomas Vermaelen

Everton reportedly failed with a deadline day bid to sign former Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen from Barcelona.


The Belgium international was impressive during his first pre-season under Ernesto Valverde, and this caught the eye of Ronald Koeman, who was eyeing a left-sided defender, who could provide to Leighton Baines.

According to The Liverpool Echo, the Merseyside outfit held extensive talks with Barcelona over an initial loan deal with an obligation to buy at the end of the season. However, the Spanish giants decided to block the defender’s exit with Marlon Santos having been sent on loan to Nice for the campaign.

Vermaelen, 31, has largely struggled to make an impact since his arrival at Camp Nou in the summer of 2014. The Belgian international has endured a series of injuries during his time in Catalunya, and he was sent on a temporary spell to Roma last season, where he struggled to make the first-team cut. Continue reading Everton failed with deadline day move for Thomas Vermaelen