Griezmann Signs with Barcelona

It’s finally happened, after months of speculation, Antoine Griezmann is a Barcelona player. More than 12 months after the broadcast of The Decision, a documentary where Griezmann was agonising over the decision to transfer to either Barcelona or Atletico Madrid, only to turn down Barcelona, Griezmann is making his way to Camp Nou after all. He regretted his decision to play for Atletico Madrid and reversed it rather quickly to now play for Barcelona.

The Transfer of Antoine Griezmann

Barcelona initially hoped to negotiate the transfer of Griezmann by paying the large sum of the cash through several instalments. However, in the end, the buyout clause had to be paid in full. This was always going to take place as the buyout clause is essentially what made this possible for the club and the player. Because the buyout clause decreased from €200 million to £120 million, it was primarily seen as an open invitation for Barcelona, and they accepted it with open hands.

Paying the buyout clause took longer than expected, which we considered being quite silly. Barcelona knew months in advance that Antoine Griezmann would play for Barcelona in the 2019/20 season and they knew it was going to take place on 1 July 2019. Barcelona had to gather the large sum of the money, prepare the paperwork, get it signed off, and assist Griezmann with the transfer. Thankfully, everything has been taken care of. Before Griezmann joining the team for preseason warm-up, he will need to participate in photoshoots, thumbs up pictures, and a couple of words on his recent transfer. From there, it’s full steam ahead.

The Possible Transfer of Neymar

This takes us to our next topic of discussion where another football star is trying his best to make his return to Barcelona where he recently left the club to play for Paris Saint Germain. We are talking about Neymar and his desire to return to Camp Nou. With Griezmann taken care of, six long weeks in the transfer window could end up with Neymar on the squad for the 2019/20 season. However, it’s way too early to make any concrete statements on this subject.

Neymar has stated on numerous occasions that he would like to make a return to Barcelona and his teammates, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi, have also shown their interests to have the player back on the attacking side of Camp Nou. It’s also worth mentioning that PSG is no longer interested in Neymar after forking out such a large sum of money for the Brazilian striker. Many supporters of Barcelona will start asking themselves if the transfer of Neymar is worth it, especially with Griezmann now on the team.

Most people don’t think it is and that’s because the player has way too much baggage at the moment. Barcelona won’t lose anything if they don’t sign Neymar and we believe they already have a fantastic line-up of players on the attacking side.

Brazil Victorious at 2019 Copa America

Brazil claiming a Copa America victory at home shouldn’t come as a surprise. The country has hosted the competition a total of 5 times, and after defeating Peru 3-1 during Sunday’s final, they have been victorious five times.

Not only did the tournament show that Brazil was able to handle being the favourites, proving that they did not choke on the anticipation as they did five years ago in the World Cup, but that they claimed victory thanks to a progressive, modern playing style. Brazil achieved this glorious win without Neymar who was injured throughout the competition. This is one victory that Tite will remember forever, a win that occurred without an imbalanced Neymar.

The Brazilian Manager

When Brazil was defeated by Peru three years ago in Foxborough, eliminating them from the Copa America group stage, it marked the beginning of a modernity shift for Brazil. Dunga was out while he was replaced by Tite, who didn’t have the narrow-mindedness of his predecessor. He decided to go to Europe and learn from others, study other players, and adopt a unique football style by pressing.

However, even though he incorporated this new and improved technique in the World Cup, he was always going to be hampered by the galactic ego-minded Neymar. Someone who no one can rely on when it comes to pressing as he slowed down the game. During the World Cup, there were several moments where Brazil showed that they had what it takes to be winners, but the imbalance of Neymar quickly ruled this out.

Without Neymar playing in the team, the squad transformed into something spectacular. It took a few attempts with a roster of players, but once everything merged, it turned into a phenomenal team, especially when you consider Gabriel Jesus and Everton as flanks, while Firmino dropped deep from a central role.

Peru vs Brazil

Gabriel Jesus managed to set up a beautiful opener for Everton during Brazil’s match against Peru. Everton was also the man who created the late penalty for the third goal, while Gabriel Jesus scored the second goal after Firmino won the ball, while Arthur surged forward. The midfielder from Barcelona played a vital role in midfield while Coutinho was considered the playmaker. Arthur was undoubtedly a player that Brazil missed during the last World Cup.

The only sad part about the match between Brazil and Peru was the fact that the ticket prices were far above average. This meant that only idle classes made up the bulk of the crowd at the stadium and plenty of seats were left open during the duration of the Copa America. This is something that needs to be looked at during the next Copa America as more ticket sales lead to more benefits for both team and football association.

Brazil deserved the win after their incredible performance, and we hope that the referees hear Lionel Messi and his concerns regarding corruption in Copa America.

Copa America Semi-Final – Argentina vs Brazil

The Gods of Football have given us a genuine rivalry in the semi-finals of the Copa America which will take place on 3 July 2019 between Brazil and Argentina.

History of Brazil vs Argentina

These two teams have faced each other for over 100 years and managed to reach 12 World Cup finals combined, winning a total of 7. They have also produced three unquestionable GOAT players, including Lionel Messi, Diego Maradona, and Pele, spawning loads of sociological treaties surrounding the importance of football when it comes to their national psyches and has often been considered the yin to each other’s yang.

In a total of 105 meetings between these two teams, Brazil has taken 41 victories, while Argentina have won 38 matches and there’s only 26 draws between them. If you exclude friendlies from this equation, Argentina currently has the lead with 18 against 17.

However, there hasn’t been loads of encounters that were deemed friendly between these two teams; from the 1925 pitch invasions to the 1937 incident when Brazil walked off. In 1939 when Argentina walked off allowing Brazil to score a winning penalty with no goalkeeper and 1946 when police invaded the pitch to stop a fight. During 1978 when the Battle of Rosario occurred, to the 1982 World Cup when Maradona made a horror tackle, to the 1990 holy water controversy, to the 1991 Copa America when 5 players were sent off, to the 1995 hand of the devil goal by Tulio, this rivalry is bursting at the seams with controversy.

The last time these two teams played against each other in Copa America was during the final of the tournament in 2007. Now, twelve years later, you can still find two football players on the field, including Dani Alves who managed to score in a 3-0 Brazil victory, and Lionel Messi who was only 20 years old at the time.

Copa America Semi-Finals

Some believe that the clash between Brazil and Argentina this time around will be completely different since most of the players on the pitch are teammates when it comes to their day jobs. Philippe Coutinho is with Lionel Messi at Barcelona, while Gabriel Jesus is with Sergio Aguero and Nicolas Otamendi at Manchester City. Angel Di Maria and Leandro Paredes share a dressing room with Brazil’s Marquinhos, while Dani Alves and Thiago Silva do the same at Paris-Saint Germain. You can also find Alex Sandro and Paulo Dybala together at Juventus.

The fact is, commercialization, globalization, and cold hard cash, has managed to transform these players into friends, but there’s no denying that this game is going to be completely different. This is on an international level, and each player will be playing for their country.

Brazil is still trying to forget about the 7-1 upset against Germany at the stadium where they will be playing against Argentina, while the White and Sky-Blue team haven’t claimed a major trophy in more than two decades.

Argentina Advance to the Copa America Quarterfinals

There’s a trap that every head coach needs to avoid: Don’t let your game strategy be more critical that the players in your team. In other words, make do with what you have and avoid working around it.

This trap essentially explains the disaster that Argentina experienced during their last World Cup campaign in 2018. Jorge Sampaoli is undoubtedly one of the most intriguing coaches on earth, but his high-pressure tactics require a goalkeeper that is fantastic on his feet and quick defenders. Argentina doesn’t have either of these qualities, and therefore, chaos was the result.

Argentina Receives a New Manager

Sampaoli was on a long-term contract and to get rid of him, the football association in Argentina had to fork out a fat check to pay him off. Lionel Scaloni, the inexperienced coach, replaced Sampaoli permanently as he had a glowing record in qualification. Scaloni was also quite cheap compared to the previous coach.

Unfortunately, Scaloni fell into the same trap as the previous head coach. He created a bold strategy for the Argentina football team: be quick on transitions and use two wingers that will play the ball swiftly into open spaces. However, there was one massive problem that surfaced when the best player in Argentina returned for international duty. Scaloni’s plan did not fit around Lionel Messi.

One of the team’s wingers needed to be sacrificed, and therefore, the entire plan fell apart. Scaloni was well aware of this fact. So, when Messi made his return to the team for a friendly match against Venezuela, the head coach had the opportunity to tweak his overall strategy. He decided to have three centre-back players, which allowed him to have two attacking wing-backs that could provide the width. The only problem with the three centre-backs was the fact that they were unable to defend successfully against the pace of the wingers in Venezuela.

Scaloni decided to return to his original plan, one that he knew couldn’t work with Lionel Messi in the mix. The outcome of his decision was a defeat during the opening match against Columbia. Since this defeat, along with the immense pressure from the tournament, Scaloni has been trying to dig himself out of this trap.

Argentina’s Path to Victory

Everything started to come together when Sergio Aguero took over for Roberto Pereyra at half-time during the match against Paraguay, the second game for Argentina in the Copa America. Argentina finally started inching forward towards something more coherent. The same strategy was utilized when Argentina managed to defeat Qatar 2-0 to secure a place in the Copa America quarterfinals where the team will face Venezuela on 28 June 2019.

Argentina is making progress as the tournament unfolds but will it be enough to advance past the quarterfinals of the Copa America tournament? And if they defeat Venezuela, are they experienced enough to take on a side like Brazil that has been dominant since the first game?

Matthijs de Ligt’s Possible Transfer Options

Matthijs de Ligt has managed to emerge as one of the hottest topics in this summer’s European transfer window after he captained Ajax to the semi-finals of the Champions League at only 19 years of age.

Paris-Saint Germain, Manchester United have tracked the centre-back, and Barcelona, with speculation, also linking the football star to Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Manchester City, and Juventus. De Ligt has recently stated that he will take his time to decide where he will go after his much-needed vacation this month. However, with all these elite clubs at his feet, which one will be the best for his career?

Barcelona

The most significant selling point when you consider a club like Barcelona is the fact that you will get to play alongside Lionel Messi and call him a teammate. However, with Gerard Pique now at 32 years old, the team needs to rebuild and improve their defence. De Ligt can easily be regarded as the kingpin for the Barca defence which can last for the next decade. This will allow him to take his game to a brand-new level while playing next to Pique. He will also be guaranteed to win massive trophies while playing with Frenkie de Jong who is also from the Netherlands.

Paris-Saint Germain

Reporters have recently stated that PSG is currently ahead of every other club in the race to acquire De Ligt. Should he decide to join PGS, he could be looking at a cabinet full of domestic trophies with the French champions. Learning more about football while playing next to Thiago Silva is another appealing factor that De Ligt will consider. There’s no denying that a move to PSG would be one of the most lucrative decisions of his career.

Manchester United

A transfer over to Manchester United would be extremely lucrative for a young player like De Ligt. Once he arrives, he would play every single week and will have a defence formed around the young star. Manchester United are currently in a difficult situation, but they are still considered one of the largest clubs in the world. De Ligt might be interested in the challenge to get the team back on track. Thanks to his incredible skills and abilities, he would be ideally suited for the English Premier League.

Liverpool

The prospect of forming a defensive partnership with Virgil van Dijk in the Liverpool squad is a compelling aspect for De Ligt. And thanks to the recent victory at the Champions League, Liverpool can offer De Ligt the chance to play with the best European club in the world and probably the next Premier League winners for 2020 due to the extraordinary leadership qualities of Jurgen Klopp.

Verdict

Regardless of what De Ligt decided to do this summer, he will undoubtedly find himself at one of the most elite clubs in Europe. However, if he is smart and has the opportunity to hand-pick a club, Liverpool should be his top pick.

Barcelona Want €60 Million in Sales by 30 June 2019

Barcelona is hoping to bring in a minimum of €60 million through player sales before 30 June 2019 with the primary objective of balancing their accounts for the upcoming season, several sources have recently reported.

Ernesto Valverde is also hoping to add another 3 or 4 football players to his current squad during the summer. However, he has recently been warned that the delicate financial situation of the club dictates that football players need to be sold before new players can join.

Barcelona’s Signing Plans

After the unexpected Champions League defeat against Liverpool earlier this year, Barcelona has decided to make Philippe Coutinho available as a transfer and are hoping that he has a fantastic tournament with Brazil during the Copa America as they want to receive at least million for his services.

Samuel Umtiti and Ivan Rakitic are also well aware that Barca will look for decent offers for them as the club aims to make close to €300 million for the two players before the next season gets underway. However, both players have recently expressed their desire to remain at the club. However, sources have recently revealed that it’s the fringe players that Barcelona is desperately searching to transfer before the end of June 2019.

The Spanish champions already committed to signing Frenkie de Jong from Ajax for an initial €75 million. The club is also interested in Antoine Griezmann who recently informed Atletico Madrid that he wants to leave the club and will be available on 1 July 2019 for €120 million.

Barcelona also has an agreement with the Dutch club Ajax to sign a contract with Matthijs de Ligt eventually. However, the club hasn’t had any discussions with the player as of yet. The club will re-open a contract agreement with his agent later this week. However, it seems like Paris Saint-Germain might be in the best position to grab the player. Obtaining de Ligt will also see Umtiti moving closer to the exit door.

Barcelona Players that Might Leave

Andre Gomes should be the first player to leave. The midfielder from Portugal has multiple suitors across England after he spent the last season on loan at Everton. The player already rejected offers from West Ham and Everton are keen to keep him on permanently. Barcelona is confident that he will fetch at least €30 million for the club.

Barcelona is also looking for new homes for Jasper Cillessen, Malcolm, Rafinha, and Denis Suarez. Atletico Madrid and Valencia are interested in Denis Suarez, while Jasper Cillessen recently requested to leave and return to regular football. Barcelona is currently asking for €30 million for the Dutch goalkeeper.

The club also believes that they can claim back €40 million that paid for Malcolm last year. The player didn’t have many opportunities during his first season with Barcelona, and his agents will soon meet with the club to discuss possible options. This will assist in obtaining enough money for other transfers.

Liverpool Claim Glory at the Champions League Final

None of the Liverpool fans will care too much about the banners that were unfolded in Madrid and the fact that they now look completely outdated. Liverpool managed to claim their sixth star and when the team returns next season, we will undoubtedly see ‘Madrid, 2019’ added to the white, yellow, and red flags that have been flapping from lampposts, hotel windows, and balconies in Spain in memory of Paris, 1981, Wembley, 1978, Rome, 1984 and 1977, and Istanbul, 2005.

Liverpool’s Glorious Victory

For Liverpool, this will be the sixth time in the history of the prestigious football club where they managed to bring back the shiny old pot. Only Real Madrid, with a total of 13 times, and AC Milan, with a total of 7 times, boast with a more superior record when it comes to the Champions League. In the English Premier League, Liverpool has managed to win the tournament more than any of the other clubs combined.

Mohamed Salah will finally understand the feeling of scoring a decisive goal in the biggest soccer tournament Europe has to offer, along with Divock Origi who is now considered the ultimate hero for his club after scoring a phenomenal goal during the 83rd minute of the match. The rewards that come at this level will be so prestigious that Jurgen Klopp and his team won’t be bothered with the fact that they could have performed at a much more sophisticated level.

Tottenham Hotspur’s Pain

As for Tottenham Hotspur, it gave the impression of a breath-taking painting being torn apart. The players in the team along with Mauricio Pochettino will never be able to forget the evening where they had the opportunity to claim the most prestigious trophy in the 137 years since the club’s inception.

They will feel especially hurt that the goalkeeper for Liverpool didn’t make any significant saves until the second half of the match and realized the hard way that there’s no glory in a final while the other team is on the winner’s podium. It must be a genuinely numbing feeling to witness the trophy in all its glory and not being able to hold it in your hands at the end of the night.

Liverpool’s Remarkable Performance

Although Liverpool completely understands how Tottenham felt in the evening, they made 100% sure that they wouldn’t feel like it again. Liverpool had Salah on the field for a more extended period this time around which helped. The Reds were also playing against a club that was 26 points behind them in the Premier League.

Origi was another unlikely hero for the evening that many did not expect, but his goal during the 87th minute was the end of the duel and everything in the stadium, and those watching from around the world, knew it. After Liverpool scored the 2nd goal, it didn’t take long for the club to throw Jurgen Klopp in the air.

Manchester City Players – Dump or Keep

We were under the impression that completing this exercise for Man City would be pretty straight forward. You claim a domestic treble, win a second league title, everything is perfect, right? Not precisely, and that’s not due to the UEFA investigations either.

There’s loads of work that needs to be done with this club if they wish to stay in front in the 2019/20 season. Between players that are leaving, like Vincent Kompany, players that might want to go, including Nicolas Otamendi and Ilkay Gundogan, and players that are coming to an end on their contracts, such as David Silva and Fernandinho, there are urgent calls to make.

So, here is our assessment of the Manchester City squad and what might happen during the summer transfer window.

Goalkeepers

  • Ederson: Contract expires in 2025, and he is still only 25 years old, so it’s worth keeping him on.
  • Claudio Bravo: He’s been injured throughout the year and, due to his age, might want to return to regular football. He will never be number 1 again, and therefore it’s wise to sell him.
  • Arijanet Muric: The club loves him, but require a veteran backup for the team. Therefore, it’s advisable to send him on loan.
  • Daniel Grimshaw: Keep him on.

Defenders

  • John Stones, Aymeric Laporte, Oleksandr Zinchenko, and Kyle Walker: Keep
  • Nicolas Otamendi: Pep doesn’t trust this player and won’t play much once you get an elite central defender on the team to replace Kompany. So sell him while you can.
  • Vincent Kompany: Free transfer to Anderlecht.
  • Eliaqium Mangala: Man City have been trying to get rid of this player for years. Sell him while the opportunity is still there or give him away.
  • Benjamin Mendy: Concerns are growing over his commitment, and he is unable to stay fit. Sell him and upgrade his position.
  • Danilo: He’s dependable and reliable in various positions, so it’s wise to keep him.
  • Tosin Adarabioyo: Homegrown player with loads of value. Keep and extend.

Midfielders

  • Bernardo Silva, Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden: Keep
  • Douglas Luiz: Still a young player that can mature elsewhere, so loan him
  • Fernandinho: Vital player for the team that cannot be replaced at the moment, so keep him.
  • Ilkay Gundogan: He stated that he wouldn’t sign a new contract, so its best to sell him now.
  • Fabian Delph: Sell
  • David Silva: Keep player unless he decides to leave.
  • Leroy Sane: Still young and packed with skills. Keep and extend.
  • Riyad Mahrez: Give player time to adapt at Manchester City.

Forwards

  • Sergio Aguero: Keep player until he wants to leave.
  • Gabriel Jesus: Keep
  • Patrick Roberts: Another club should take him off Man City’s hands. Alternatively, you can also loan this player to gain experience as he is still very young.
  • Jack Harrison: You can extend his contract to preserve his value. Alternatively, Pep can send him to another club with a similar manager to allow the player to grow.

How Solskjaer Can Fix Manchester United

The Manchester United manager ripped into each of his players following a horrible 2-0 defeat at home against Cardiff City on the last day of the Premier League, informing them that they were an embarrassment to both themselves and the club. Solskjaer is spot on, but it will necessarily be him that will lose his job if things don’t turn around after an awful 2018/19 season.

Finishing in sixth place, with 32 points behind Manchester City is a complete disgrace for Manchester United. However, the Norwegian has a clear picture of which players are a problem and which players need to stay. He had a total of 6 months to evaluate the team and allowed each of them to prove themselves on the pitch.

Solskjaer as Head Coach

Some are under the impression that it was a huge mistake to make Solskjaer a full-time head coach in March. However, no one said anything when he defeated Paris-Saint Germain during the Champions League two months ago. Unfortunately, Manchester United has been rotten ever since then, and Solskjaer must take some blame. However, there’s loads of credit still left for the head coach, and most of the fans remain on his side.


One huge advantage when he was appointed in March was that he was allowed to plan carefully for next season. He understood that recruitment was a major priority and requested that Mike Phelan become a permanent staff member on his team. Solskjaer’s request came to life after his employers drew up a contract for Mike Phelan last week.

Manchester United’s Plan for 2019/20 Season

Manchester United are well aware of which areas need to be strengthened in the team and the type of footballers the club needs. Solskjaer is planning to get players in early to lift the spirit and hopes in fans around the world. Avoiding the unnecessary mess that was created last year will help too. Manchester United was also taken by surprise when they were informed late that another central midfielder was required on the pitch.

These types of players are complicated to find, especially from now-wealthy clubs, such as Leicester City. If the head coach doesn’t get it right, the club will slip behind the likes of Wolves, Everton, and Leicester.

Manchester United’s recruitment is being monitored very carefully because it previously fell short and turned out to be a disaster. Solskjaer also wants each of his players to be much fitter as well, which is why there have been loads of changes when it comes to his fitness staff too.

Solskjaer is not a puppet or an idiot when it comes to the club and dismissing the necessary team members. He understands that the job will eat him alive if he doesn’t get his players to perform, and he knows he needs to make a few bold moves to get rid of the problematic players in the dressing room. He can make these decisions without hesitating once.

Liverpool and Manchester City Complete a Phenomenal Season

There weren’t any unexpected twists on the last day of the Premier League. Just two of the best clubs that England has ever seen doing precisely what they’ve been doing in every league game in the last couple of months: winning.

Manchester City has managed to accumulate 198 Premier League points out of a possible 228 over the last two seasons. That showcases a level of dominance that has never been seen before in the Premier League, and it offers cause to think when it comes to those that ridiculed the achievements by Pep Guardiola at Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

Equally impressive is the fact that Manchester City was pushed until the end by the Reds, which is a true statement of the work done by their rivals. Most of us were too focused on the overall storylines that we never stopped to marvel at the work both these managers achieved in the 2018/19 Premier League season. Both individually and collectively as well as in the way they represented their clubs in the campaign. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at each of these clubs.

Manchester City

Manchester City was defeated 2-1 by Newcastle towards the end of January. From there on in, Man City only conceded four goals in the last 14 games. This occurred although Fernandinho only started in 5 of these games even though he is considered irreplaceable when it comes to the defence. Down the field, Pep Guardiola put his trust in two footballers who only a handful would have seen as critical contributors to their victory, one old, one young.

Oleksandr Zinchenko started as a winger but was under the radar for most of last year. However, in the previous 3 months, he was an ever-present left back, which gave the impression that he’d been part of the team for years. Vincent Kompany, a player who was slowed by injuries, seemed to have become a non-playing footballer in the last couple of years.

However, he was a secret weapon in the final weeks, especially when he scored his phenomenal goal while playing against Leicester City. He is one of the reasons why Manchester City lifted the trophy.

Liverpool

Liverpool, on the other hand, only lost one league match the entire season while boasting with the best defensive record within the league. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson as full-backs, along with Alisson and Virgil van Dijk, received loads of praise.

However, has anyone considered Joel Matip? Eighteen months ago, when he suffered from injuries and when van Dijk arrived, he seemed the had fallen behind. However, he joined the starting line-up in January and has been ever-present ever since.

Look at Naby Keita and Fabinho, two wildly expensive players that didn’t do much during the first three months. Klopp worked on them during the season, and both of them played vital roles in midfield.