Posts Tagged ‘Barcelona’
Barcelona acted swiftly to recruit a new coach in the wake of Tito Vilanova’s departure to continue his battle with throat cancer and the Catalan club have secured the services of Gerardo Martino on a three year contract, which is expected to be signed in the next few days. Rumours that the Argentinian manager would be taking over at the Camp Nou first surfaced over the weekend when star striker Lionel Messi was quoted as praising him in the press and Martino is now expected to arrive in Barcelona tomorrow.
Gerardo Martino, 50, was an attacking midfielder as a player, who spent the vast majority of his career in Argentina with Newell’s Old Boys, where he clocked up a record number of appearances in three spells between 1980 and 1995. He had a brief spell in the Spanish league with Tenerife and wound up his playing career in Chile and Ecuador having earned a solitary cap for his country. He won three Argentinian titles with Newell’s Old Boys as a player and has enjoyed further success as a manager.
He embarked on his coaching career in 1998 with some minor Argentinian clubs before moving to Paraguay with Libertad in 2002. It was in Paraguay that he really made his name as a coach, winning four titles in five years with Libertad and Cerro Porteno before taking charge of the national team in 2006, just after the World Cup and guiding them to the quarter finals four years later in South Africa. His tenure in charge of Paraguay ended in 2011 when they finished as runners-up to Uruguay in the Copa America in his native Argentina. He subsequently returned to his home town club, Newell’s Old Boys in Rosario, Argentina and has just taken them to their first national title in nine years, as well as to the Copa Libertadores semi finals where they lost on penalties to Atletico Mineiro of Brazil.
Manchester United manager David Moyes has confirmed that the club has made a renewed offer for Barcelona’s former Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas. United had an offer of around £25 million rejected by the Spanish champions last week, but they have decided to continue with their interest in the player and return with an improved bid, thought to be worth around £30 million.
The situation at the Catalan club has been evolving in the mean time, with manager Tito Vilanova stepping down from his post at the end of last week. Vilanova, 44, has been battling throat cancer since 2011 and was sidelined for much of last season as he underwent treatment in New York and has now taken the decision to leave the club and focus on his fight against the disease. Barcelona have yet to appoint a permanent replacement but they hope to do so in the near future, with Celta Vigo manager Luis Enrique amongst the favourites.
It remains to be seen whether Barcelona will issue an immediate response to this latest offer, or will wait until a new manager is in place to decide whether or not he wants to keep Fabregas. The player himself was reported as saying that he’s happy at Barcelona and isn’t keen on an imminent move back to England and Barcelona’s midfield would start to look a little light on numbers if they were to sell Fabregas, having only recently let Thiago Alcantara move to Bayern Munich. Fabregas was seen as a long-term replacement for Xavi who, at 33, is going to need resting more and more regularly, so Fabregas is likely to get increasing amounts of first team action if he stays at the Nou Camp. However, it’s a World Cup season and he may feel that the offer of a near guaranteed first team spot at United would be good for his chances on nailing down a spot in Spain’s staring eleven for Brazil.
Barcelona failed to close the gap on leaders Real Madrid with a lacklustre 3-2 deafeat away to Osasuna. The champions’ hopes of retaining their La Liga title look to be fading fast as Real now have the chance to move 10 points clear if they can beat Levante at the Bernabeu tonight.
It was an odd team selection from Barca coach Pep Guardiola, with star midfielders Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas all left on the bench on an icy night at the Estadio Reyno de Navarra. Perhaps they were being rested ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League trip to Leverkusen, but whatever the reason, Barca were quickly made to pay by a clinical Dejan Lekic, who put Osasuno ahead after only four minutes.
The Serb doubled his tally in the 22nd minute to leave the Catalans with a mountain to climb and Guardiola reacted with a double substitution at the interval, replacing Puyol and Pedro with youngsters Cuenca and Tello. Their introduction brought new energy to the Barcelona attack and reaped instant dividends when Cuenca crossed for Sanchez to score from close range.
However, it was still a very open encounter and Barca took one risk too many at the back as they chased the game, allowing Raul Garcia to score with a neat first time finish that squeezed in off the foot of the near post. Guardiola then threw all remaining caution to the wind and replaced centre-back Pique with Fabregas in an all or nothing attempt to keep their title hopes alive.
It very nearly worked as Fabregas provided the assist for Tello to halve the deficit only two minutes after leaving the bench, giving Barca almost twenty minutes to chase an equaliser. However, the Osasuna defence stood firm and, baring one goal ruled out for a marginal offside decision, they effectively contained the attacking threat of Messi et al.
Elsewhere in La Liga, Bilbao missed out on a chance to move into the top four as they went down 2-1 away at Betis, Nelson scoring a late winner with the Basques having gone down to ten men following the dismissal of Javi Martinez in the 64th minute. The day’s other game saw a goalless draw between Racing Santander and Atletico Madrid played out at El Sardinero.
Reports from Spain today suggest that Arsenal could be one of a number of clubs chasing the signature of Loic Remy. The OGC Nice player has been linked with a host of clubs, and is expected to be on the move during the transfer window.
The 23-year-old has been attracting much interest from around Europe following some excellent performances for the side based on the French south-coast. Remy has knocked in seven league goals in 20 games, which accounts for nearly half of his sides attacking output in what has been a disappointing season for the side from the Stade du Rey.
Remy has an unusual history in that he came through the Lyon academy, but after being farmed out on loan to Lens, he was allowed to join Nice on a permanent basis at the beginning of last season. His first season brought 11 goals in 32 league games, and this season he could be on course to better it.
His excellent form has brought him to the attention of not only a string of clubs around Europe, but also the Fnrech national side, and he earned his first cap at the end of last season in a friendly against Nigeria.
Since then the like of Barcelona, AC Milan and Arsenal have all been tracking his progress. His agent sparked a wave of interest by urging AC Milan to make a move for the player, insisting that if they don’t within 48 hours Remy will be on his way to another side outside Italy.
Many have interpreted that to be Arsenal, who are on the look-out for attacking options following the long-term injury to Robin van Persie. Remy is quick and versatile and just the sort of player that could represent a quality enhancement to Arsenal’s attack, both in the short and medium term.
Remy could be available at a price a good deal lower than the one Bordeaux have quoted for Marouane Chamakh, a player with a lesser goal-scoring record than Remy. Therefore Remy could become another of Arsene Wenger’s genuine transfer gems,
West Ham United are believed to be close to sealing a deal to secure the services of Icelandic forward Eidur Gudjohnsen from Monaco. The 31 year-old has been on the radar at Upton Park for some time, having played alongside current Hammers boss Gianfranco Zola at Chelsea, but the Premier League club failed in an attempt to snap him up last summer when he left Barcelona to move to France.
Gudjohnsen has failed to settle in the French principality after joining AS Monaco just last August. He hasn’t scored a single goal in his nine appearances for Les Rouges et Blanc so far, and is now set to up sticks once more and team up again with Zola in a return to the Premier League after four years away from England’s top flight.
Zola is a keen admirer of Gudjohnsen after enjoying a successful spell together at Stamford Bridge. In their three seasons together up front for the Blues, they shared the princely sum of 79 goals.
Zola has been desperately trying to get another striker through the doors of Upton Park for some time as they look for the perfect partner for current top goalscorer Carlton Cole. A lack of funds denied the Italian from getting his man last summer, but following the club’s takeover this week by David Gold and David Sullivan, he has been given funds to spend in the transfer market and looks set to bag his number one target.
The Hammers are also looking to conclude a deal for 32-year-old Blackburn Rovers striker Benni McCarthy. The South African has been on the fringes of Sam Allardyce’s side so far this season and seems set to leave Ewood Park during the January transfer window.
The Cape Town-born forward is hoping for more regular first-team football in a bid to secure a place in the Bafana Bafana squad for this summer’s World Cup finals which take place in his homeland. Blackburn are said to be looking for a fee in the region of £2.5 million for the striker, who is also being tracked by Turkish club Galatasaray.