Category Archives: Spanish La Liga

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FC Barcelona to pay Liverpool at least £130m for Philippe Coutinho

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FC Barcelona could complete a long-proposed coup for Brazil playmaker Philippe Coutinho, although it will take the second highest transfer fee in history to move Liverpool.

The Reds rejected three bids from Barcelona in the summer — but despite the third being worth up to €130m and including €40m in potential add-ons, manager Jurgen Klopp and club officials stated that the 25-year-old was not for sale.

However, it was understood that the stance has since softened and Coutinho’s representatives have continued to explore the possibility of Liverpool sanctioning their client’s departure to the Camp Nou.

There was further speculation as Nike, Barcelona’s kit supplier and a Coutinho sponsor, incorrectly announced a deal had been done on Saturday but Liverpool are not taking legal action over the story and Klopp dismissed it at Burnley, claiming he could not be less interested.

Still, it remains that the Liverpool manager, who has been repeatedly questioned about Coutinho’s mooted departure in recent weeks, has been reluctant to state the Brazilian will remain at Anfield until the end of the season — unlike in the summer and perhaps wary of upsetting an in-form player.

Despite a foiled move in the summer, Coutinho, who also had a transfer request rejected and missed the first few games of the season with a back injury, kept his best form and scored 12 goals in 20 appearances as well as playing a significant role in their progress to the Champions League knockout stage.

This meant that Barca would have to bid around €50m more than they paid to make Ousmane Dembélé the second most expensive player in the world for Liverpool to contemplate a deal that could disrupt the second half of a promising season.

Coutinho missed the New Year’s Day Premier Leaguewin at Burnley owing to a minor thigh strain and is also doubtful for Friday’s FA Cup third-round home tie against Everton.

Former Milan coach Vincenzo Montella set to take reins at Sevilla

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Former Milan coach Vincenzo Montella is set to take charge of Sevilla after reaching an agreement with the La Liga club on Thursday.

Sevilla has officially announced that Montella, 43, would travel to Spain as soon as he had terminated his contract with Milan, where he was fired as coach at the end of last month.

“Sevilla FC and the Italian coach Vincenzo Montella have reached an agreement for him to become coach of the first team until June 2019,” the La Liga giants said in a statement.

Montella will be replacing Eduardo Berizzo — who was sacked last Friday following a run of poor results — only a week after returning to work following an operation to treat prostate cancer.

Berizzo was sacked despite Sevilla currently standing at a respectable fifth place in the table and having qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League, after the Argentinian replaced his compatriot Jorge Sampaoli, who left after the end of last season to take charge of their country’s national team.

“Sevilla FC would like to express its gratitude to Berizzo for his professionalism, the work he has delivered and his treatment of all the members of the club since his arrival,” Sevilla said in the statement announcing the dismissal.

As a player, Montella played as a former striker for Genoa, Sampdoria and Roma while making 20 international appearances for Italy. His coaching career has included three seasons with Fiorentina, finishing fourth in Serie A in each, one with Sampdoria and one and a half with Milan.

Once he takes charge at Sevilla, Montella will be the only Italian coach in La Liga after Gianni De Biasi having been fired by Alaves at the end of November.

Andres Iniesta: Liverpool’s Coutinho won’t take my Barcelona spot

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December 22 — FC Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta has said that doesn’t see Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho as someone who will come in and replace him but as a player who could improve the current Barca squad.

Barca had failed with three bids for Coutinho in the summer, but they intend to test the waters again January with CEO Oscar Grau saying the Catalan club ‘are prepared’ to sign him.

There had already been talk on where the Brazilian playmaker would fit into once he arrives, with some saying he would play take Iniesta’s place in midfield. However, the 33-year-old Spanish international — who signed a lifetime contract with the club earlier this year — indicated that he doesn’t see Coutinho as competition and would welcome his arrival at Camp Nou.

“I think Coutinho’s a great team player with a huge amount of talent,” Iniesta said. “He can use both feet, he scores goals, he links play well and gets between the lines in attack.”

“He’s a player with qualities like ours and it would be a great signing if it’s finally done. I don’t see him as competition for me, but as a step forward for the club.”

Iniesta will be leading his side in Saturday’s Clasico against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu, where league leaders Barcelona are six points clear of second-placed Atletico Madrid and 11 ahead of fourth-placed Real, who have played a game less.

“We are in a confident mood at the moment,” Barca midfielder Paulinho said. “We know it will be tough in all competitions but we are on a winning run and we are very solid as a team.”

“Madrid are a quality team and we will have to be on the ball for 90 minutes, but we just have to worry about ourselves and put in a good performance. A Clasico can be decided at any moment and we have to be almost perfect.”

Atletico Madrid reports FC Barcelona to FIFA over Griezmann approach

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La Liga club Atletico Madrid have reported their domestic title rivals FC Barcelona to FIFA for making an illegal approach for their French forward Antoine Griezmann.

Griezmann, 26, who signed a contract with Atletico in the summer lasting until 2021 to ward off interest from numerous suitors such as Manchester United amidst a transfer embargo placed against the Madrid club.

However, he became the subject of increased speculation over recent days after Barca’s director of institutional relations hinted it was “possible” that the club’s president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, had held talks with the 26-year-old’s family.

This goes in direct violation against FIFA rules, which say that a team interested in signing a player must first make contact with his club before being allowed to hold negotiations, with Atletico therefore taking the case towards the world governing body.

“Atlético Madrid have reported Barcelona for repeated contact with Griezmann and his people, contact which we are aware of,” a spokesman for Atletico told Mundo Deportivo. “He is a player with a contract with Atlético Madrid and a long contract at that.”

A FIFA spokesman has confirmed that the complaint had been received.

Griezmann has a release clause in his contract set at €100m (£88.4m) but a report last week suggested that Barca’s technical director Roberto Fernandez having already held talks with the Frenchman’s entourage, with Guillermo Amor later admitting the club are interested in signing him.

“If that’s what the newspaper said, it’s possible …” Amor told Movistar+. “Maybe there’s been a meeting and things have advanced, although I don’t know. Rumours are inevitable in football.”

“In the case of Griezmann, there are a lot of players we could be talking with, initiating some kind of relationship if there’s an opportunity. We’re obliged to have contact with players. It’s something which is done.”