Martín Montoya joins Inter Milan on loan

Martín Montoya during the season 2014/15 / VÍCTOR SALGADO - FCB
The right back will join the Italian club for a season and if he should play a certain number of matches, the loan agreement will be extended for another year

The FC Barcelona player Martín Montoya Torralbo has been loaned to the Italian club FC Internazionale Milano for one season.

The two clubs have agreed that the loan contract shall be automatically renewed for a further season if the player appears in a certain number of games.

At the end of the second season, Inter shall retain an option to sign the player on a permanent basis.

The Managing Commission has approved the player loan to FC Internazionale Milano after receiving a positive report from the Club’s Technical Committee.

10 years since Messi won U20 World Cup

Leo Messi led Argentina to glory at the U20 World Cup in 2005 / FCB
The FC Barcelona player won both the Golden Boot and Golden Ball for his amazing displays throughout the competition

This Thursday marks one decade since a young Leo Messi, just 18 at the time, helped Argentina to victory in the U20 World Cup. By this time, he had already made his first appearances for the FCB first team and was the man on whom his country’s hopes rested at the tournament played in Holland in the summer of 2015.

Argentina finished second in Group D, behind the USA, and then beat Colombia in the second round, Messi scoring the first of the goals in a 2-1 win. In the quarter final, they won 3-1 against a Spain team featuring the likes of Cesc Fàbregas, David Silva and Fernando Llorente, and in the semis they faced old rivals Brazil, who they beat 2-1 with Messi getting one of the two goals.

Final victory

On 2 July 2005, in Utrecht, Leo Messi led Argentina in the grand final against Nigeria. He got both the goals, both from the penalty spot, to win the title for the team coached by Francisco Ferraro. That made Messi the top scorer in the competition with six goals, and he also won the MVP Golden Ball award, ahead of the Nigerian duo of John Obi Mikel and Taye Taiwo.

Three years later, Leo Messi and Argentina won the gold medal at the Olympic Games in Beijing, once again beating Nigeria in the final. On Saturday in Santiago, Chile, he will be looking to win his first major title at full international level as Argentina take on Paraguay in the final of the Copa America, a tournament the ‘albiceleste’ have not won for 22 years.

Barça quiz: Copa América edition

Bravo and Messi / MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB
Test the depth of your knowledge of the prestigious tournament leading up to Saturday’s Final featuring blaugrana stars Claudio Bravo, Javier Mascherano and Lionel Messi

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The Los Angeles Galaxy, FC Barcelona's first preseason opponent

Robbie Keane is one of the big stars at LA Galaxy / FCB
The Californians are the current MLS champions and have signed Steven Gerrard as part of their bid to win the CONCACAF Champions League

A month before the preseason gets under way, we take a look at the four teams that FC Barcelona will be playing in this summer’s International Champions Cup. It all starts on July 21 (at 5.00am CET on July 22 back in Barcelona) against Los Angeles Galaxy at the Pasadena Rose Bowl.
 
Los Angeles
is about to experience scenes similar to those in 2007 when David Beckham joined the team. Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has left English football to play for MLS champions Galaxy alongside Irishman Robbie Keane. With five titles to their name, one more than DC United, LA Galaxy is the most successful team in the history of the US soccer championship.

This year the Californians are also involved in the CONCACAF Champions League and will be hoping to win the continental title for the first time since 2000.

Second coming

FC Barcelona have been to North America on many occasions in the past, but this is only the second time that they will have played Galaxy. The only previous meeting was in 2009, also just after the Catalans had won the treble of Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League. That game was also played at the Rose Bowl and ended in a 2-1 win for Barça thanks to goals from Pedro and Jeffren. The home side scored courtesy of a David Beckham free kick.

Euro legends

Team captain Robbie Keane had all kinds of injury problems in his fourth season in the MLS, but still placed in the top three players in the championship for both goals and assists. He has been named club MVP in each of the last three seasons. The team also includes Finnish international Mika Väyrynen and Sweden’s Stefan Ishizaki, and is coached by former US national team boss Bruce Arena. With Steven Gerrard added to the mix, there are plenty of reasons for fans of the Galácticos to fancy their chances in the forthcoming Champions League.

How Messi, Mascherano and Bravo got to the Copa América Final

Messi, Mascherano and Bravo are vying for yet another title in 2015. / FCB
The three FC Barcelona players lead their teams into Saturday’s Argentina–Chile title match

Leo Messi, Javier Mascherano and Claudio Bravo shared the Barca dressing room and celebrated the 2014/15 Treble together. But this Saturday the Barça three players face off in the final of the Copa América, and once the game is over, only two Argentina players or one Chilean goalkeeper will celebrate a new title.

To reach the final, Argentina won their group by drawing 2–2 with Paraguay and beating both Jamaica and Uruguay 1–0. In the quarter-finals, the Argentines had to go to penalty kicks to win, while they routed Paraguay 6–1 in the semi-finals.

Chile also won their group after a 3–3 draw against Mexico, a 2–0 win over  Ecuador and a 5–0 rout of Bolivia. In the quarter-finals they slipped past Uruguay 1–0 and then defeated Peru, 2–1, in the semis.

Blaugrana keys

All three Barça stars have played key roles for their respective teams on the road to Saturday’s Final. Mascherano only missed 13 minutes after being subbed out of the semi-finals to avoid a yellow card that would have left him out of the Final.

Messi, the Argentina captain, has just one goal, a penalty kick in the first match against Paraguay, but has taken 17 shots and has three assists.

Bravo is Chile’s captain and has conceded just four goals, with three shutouts in five games, tied for tops in the tournament.

Here’s a look at the stats from the three Barça players heading into the Copa América Final:

  Messi Mascherano Bravo
Games 5 5 5
Minutes 450 437 450
Goals 1 0 0
Shots on target 8 0
Shots off target 9 1
Scoring chances created 13 2
Assists 280 365 156
Passing percentage 83.6% 91.4% 39.5%
Interceptions 20 26 56
Tackles won 3 7
Tackles lost 0 1
Blocks 0 7 4
Fouls received 19 9 0
Fouls committed 1 5 0
Yellow cards 1 2 0
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