Frenkie de Jong Gives Surprisingly Blunt Response Over Matthijs de Ligt’s Potential Barcelona Move

?Ajax sensation Frenkie de Jong has insisted that he ‘does not care’ whether or not teammate Matthijs de Ligt chooses to follow in his footsteps and sign for Barcelona.

Midfielder De Jong has already sealed a huge £65m deal which will see one of the most promising young midfielders arrive at Camp Nou next season, while he continues to lead his current side to Champions League heroics in the meantime.

Reports have suggested that Ajax captain De Ligt could also be set for a move to Barcelona in the summer but, as quoted by ?Calciomercato, De Jong said: “De Ligt with me at ?Barcelona? I don’t care.

“He is the one who has to choose, and I will not interfere in his decision.”

De Jong has starred alongside Ajax captain De Ligt as the Eredivisie side reached the semi finals of Europe’s elite competition in midweek with a stunning second leg victory away to ?Juventus in the quarter finals.

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The result saw the Amsterdam-based side conquer another side who have also been heavily linked with a move for De Ligt in Turin, though recent reports have indicated that Catalonia is De Ligt’s more likely destination.

The potential capture of one of the most highly-rated young centre backs on the continent, alongside the arrival of De Jong, would come as a huge boost to Barca’s quest for renewed domination over European football.


Ernesto Valverde’s side are going strong this term, boasting a nine-point lead at the top of the La Liga table, and also progressed to the semi finals of the Champions League courtesy of a comfortable 3-0 victory over ?Manchester United on Tuesday.

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90min’s Definitive European Power Rankings: Week 29

?Following a week where, I mean Jesus, what didn’t happen? Seriously, Jesus, on this Easter weekend, please tell me what didn’t happen in the world of football this week, because I’m at a loss. Essentially:

– Ajax did it again.

– Juventus cratered as an institution. No seriously – ?they did.

– United Jose’d again.

– Tottenham DIDN’T Tottenham.

– Liverpool Liverpool’d.

– Chelsea didn’t Chelsea, then drastically did.

– Europa League Unai Emery Europa League Unai Emery’d.

But that was just a tiny portion of what went down, so to help us explain the rest, we’ve employed dramatic comedy and soul-searcher extraordinaire, Noah Baumbach, and all his filmography, to help us slog through it. Never been to Prague? Let’s go. 


15. Paris Saint-Germain (Down 5)

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“Dear Starbucks, in your attempt to manufacture culture out of fast food coffee you’ve been surprisingly successful for the most part. The part that isn’t covered by ‘the most part’ sucks.” (Greenberg)

How are Paris Saint-Germain still kicking around in these here rankings? Well, they’re still Ligue 1 champions in waiting, and their French Cup final is coming up. 

The part that isn’t that? The part where they endured consecutive losses to Lille (5-1) and Nantes (3-2)? The part where they’ve attempted to manufacture culture out of football?

Yeah, that sucks.


14. Atletico Madrid (Re-Entry)

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?“I found myself writing ‘wake up’ and ‘go to bed’ in my day planner as if they are two different events.” (Kicking & Screaming)

It’s true. Atletico Madrid don’t have much to play for these days after their Champions League exit to Juventus and subsequent loss to Barcelona, which all but ended their La Liga hopes too. 

But still, a 2-0 win against Celta Vigo…that’s good going, guys! Whack that one in the diary. 


13. Valencia (New Entry)

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“‘So what do you do?

‘Eh…It’s kinda hard to explain.’

‘Because what you do is complicated?’

‘Eh…Because I don’t really do it.” (Frances Ha)

A new entry! And at this late stage! How exciting!

And Valencia have earned it, truly, by reaching the semi finals of the Europa League. What an achievement!

How did they do it, you ask? Have I watched a second of this vaunted Europa League campaign, you ask? No, but I’m certain they did do it. Good enough for me. That quote’s become meta now, hasn’t it? 


12. Chelsea (Up 2)

Pedro

“Oh, I’ve been to Prague. Well, I haven’t ‘been to Prague’ been to Prague, but I know that thing; that, ‘Stop shaving your armpits, read The Unbearable Lightness of Being, date a sculptor, now I know how bad American coffee is’ thing.

‘They have good beer there.’

‘Now I know how bad American beer is thing.’” (Kicking & Screaming)

?Chelsea have now definitively been to Prague. And they discovered just how good Petr Sevick’s right foot is, and how bad they can be with a 4-1 lead at half-time. 

Still, European semi final number 14 is on the way.


11. Lille (New Entry)

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“It’s like their apartment is full of everything we once threw out, but it looks so good the way they have it.” (While We’re Young)

Another new entry! What exciting times. And, again, this is fully deserved. 

Lille absolutely spanked the soulless Ligue 1 leaders 5-1 to delay their (still inevitable) coronation.

And they cherry-on-topped it with a goal from Jose Fonte. Sure, they have probably-generational youth talent like Nicolas Pepe, but still, Jose Fonte!!! And he looked so good, didn’t he?


10. Eintracht Frankfurt (Up 5)?

Timothy Chandler,Mijat Gacinovic

“If Plato is a fine red wine, then Aristotle is a dry martini.” (Kicking & Screaming)

I could say something equally faux-profound about Eintracht Frankfurt’s remarkable 2018/19 season, but I won’t.

I’ll just say that Luka Jovic is very good. As is Ante Rebic. As is Filip Kostic. Blues beware. 


9. Juventus (Down 5)

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“What I used to be able to pass off as a bad summer could now potentially turn into a bad life.” (Kicking & Screaming)

Another year, another European dream shattered right in front of the Old Lady’s eyes. Juve are now broken. Seriously, seriously broken. 

Sure, they have an eighth consecutive Scudetto to look forward to in the next fortnight (at most), but look around, there are no other Serie A teams in these rankings as it stands. And that tells you all you need to know. 


8. Borussia Dortmund (-)

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“Sometimes it’s good to do what you’re supposed to do when you’re supposed to do it.” (Frances Ha)

Finally, FINALLY, ?Borussia Dortmund did what they’ve supposed to have been doing during this Bundesliga title race run-in – win. And comfortably, too. 

A Jadon Sancho brace was just what the doctor ordered. More of the same, please. You know how much faith we placed in you. Some confirmation that this wasn’t misplaced would be nice. 

Thanks.


7. Arsenal (Up 1)

Ainsley Maitland-Niles,Allan

“For the first time in my life I’ve stopped thinking of myself as a child imitating an adult.” (While We’re Young)

All of a sudden, Arsenal look like a team of grown ups, especially in Europe. Of course, the stewardship of Europa League savant Unai Emery must help, but still, the improvement in their midweek continental maturity has been stark. 

Brandon Stark? Yes, ‘Game of Thrones‘ is still a thing, and if I had the time to insert Bran into this picture – cause, you know, he’s everywhere man! – I would.


6. Bayern Munich (Up 1)

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“You know, me and Jamie, always wondered, ‘how are we gonna get old?’ And the answer is…just like everyone else.” (While We’re Young)

At times this season, Bayern have looked just like a team of their age should look: bedraggled, off the pace, out of touch etc. 

But at others, they’ve appeared as ageless as a bunch of boys from Neverland.

The only way we’ll find out which assessment is true is by waiting for the sands of time to do their work. How profound. 


5. Manchester City (-)

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?”Josh, you know the world isn’t a giant conspiracy against you.” (While We’re Young)

Replace Josh with Manchester City and, yep, you’ve got it. A bitter, bitter, way to lose? Sure. A Var-spiracy hell-bent on keeping your plucky side of misfits from touching European glory? Give over. 

That may have been harsh. Because I genuinely did feel for City fans on Wednesday night – there can’t be many worse ways to lose than that, after a game like that. So here, have another Baumbach quote, on the house:

“How do you make God laugh? Make a plan.” (Kicking & Screaming)

Feeling better yet?


4. Barcelona (Down 2)

Lionel Messi

“It was like walking barefoot through broken glass to get a milkshake. I loved the milkshake, but, you know, my feet were bleeding.” (‘The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)’)

Yes, it’s only a matter of time before Barcelona win La Liga, and yes, they won their Champions League quarter-final second leg with ease. 

So why the bleeding feet?

Well, it can’t be pleasant playing 180 minutes against Manchester United, can it? 

In other film-milkshake related news, ?Lionel Messi is coming for your milkshake, Europe, and he wants to drink it all up.


3. Tottenham Hotspur (Up 3)

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“It’s huge to finally embrace the life you never planned on.” (Greenberg)

In their wildest dreams, ?Tottenham fans would never have ‘planned on’ reaching the Champions League semi finals. They may have hoped and dreamed and prayed. But never ‘planned’. They’re not like that. 

Fortunately, that’s not how their club were thinking. That’s not what their players were thinking. That’s not what their manager was thinking. For years, they’ve been plotting this moment. Sure, there’s been some praying on the way too, but Wednesday night wasn’t the result of prayers.

It was planning at its best. 


2. Liverpool (Up 1)

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“I haven’t had that thing yet, where you realise that you’re not the most important person in the world.” (Margot at the Wedding)

Sure, Liverpool vanquished some demons when they dispatched of Chelsea on Sunday at Anfield, and then vanquished Porto altogether in their ?Champions League tie, but are they the most important club in the world?

They may feel like it, but clearly, given their runner-up medal in these here rankings, they’re not. 

Sorry.


1. Ajax (-)

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?”Don’t mind me, I’m just trying to get your attention.” (Frances Ha)

Well, by God, De Godenzonen, you’ve got it. Ten times over. Christ, we love you. We love your style of football. We love your infectious youthful naivety, your generational talent, your once in a lifetime collective, your never-say-die-attitude. We love it all. 

The fact that these words are uttered by the God Adam Driver should not be ignored, either. Driver was an up-and-comer for a millisecond, and then, deservedly, he was an A-grade actor. There was no in between. No stint in Hollywood purgatory. He’s just great, in everything does. 

A lot like Ajax.

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Barcelona ‘Revisit Possibility’ of Signing Richarlison in Deal That Would Cost More Than €50m

?Barcelona have reconsidered pursuing a summer deal for Everton’s Richarlison, as they remain on the lookout for an alternative to Luis Suarez.

The Blaugrana have tracked Richarlison since before he made the move to the Premier League in 2017, but have so far decided against attempting to lure him to Camp Nou.

Richarlison

However, that could all be about to change, as ?Marca claim ?Barcelona officials have again discussed the possibility of trying to sign ?Richarlison this summer.

The 21-year-old has managed 12 ?Premier League goals this season, forcing his way into Tite’s plans for the Brazil national team. His rapid development is said to have impressed Barcelona, who now view him as a serious option for the summer.

Ernesto Valverde’s side have struggled in their search, with plenty of targets dropping off their radar in recent weeks. Krzysztof Piatek opted to join ?Milan, Eintracht Frankfurt wonderkid Luka Jovic is said to favour a move to ?Real Madrid, while ?Manchester United would demand too much to part with? Marcus Rashford.

Cost could also prove to be a problem in their pursuit of Richarlison. ?Everton have no need to part ways with their star, who is under contract until the summer of 2023, and could easily demand over €50m to sign him.

This price tag may scare Barcelona away, and the fact that he does not yet hold a European passport is also seen to be a potential issue. Richarlison would have to be registered as one of the club’s non-EU players, and director of football Eric Abidal is not keen on using one of their three spots on the Everton man.

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Currently, Malcom, Arthur and ?Arturo Vidal occupy those three non-EU positions, and Richarlison’s arrival would mean one of those three would have to be moved on.

Barcelona are yet to make a decision on whether they will pursue Richarlison, but he is said to be near the top of their wish list. However, they will face competition from Milan, who have long been linked with the Brazilian.

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Philippe Coutinho Reveals Excitement Ahead of Liverpool Return in Champions League Semi Final

?Philippe Coutinho has revealed he is looking forward to returning to Merseyside following confirmation that Liverpool and Barcelona will thrash out a Champions League semi-final, with the second leg at Anfield taking place on May 7.  

Coutinho made the blockbuster move to the Catalans in January 2018 after enjoying five years with the Reds and will be looking to put his emotions aside as he bids to reach a first Champions League final. 

Philippe Coutinho

In a Q&A with Nissan Football on Instagram relayed by the ?Liverpool Echo, Barcelona’s number seven was asked a series of questions submitted by fans. 

One fan asked: “How do you feel about playing against Liverpool?”

To which the Brazilian replied: “Very excited!”

Another question put to the midfielder by a fan was: “Favourite Champions League moment of all time?”

To which the 26-year-old revealed: “My hat-trick against Spartak Moscow.”

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Coutinho bagged three goals in his side’s 7-0 demolition of Spartak Moscow in last season’s Champions League group stage and naming it as his favourite memory of the competition will strike a chord with Liverpool supporters. 

Considering he scored an absolutely screamer against ?Manchester United on Tuesday evening which helped secure their elimination, the Moscow memory may have come as a surprise, although fans in the Kop will undoubtedly look fondly on both incidents.

?Liverpool have been handed a boost in their bid to challenge for both the ?Champions League and ?Premier League titles with the ??news? that versatile defender Joe Gomez is fit and ready for selection.

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Jurgen Klopp Opens Up on Champions League Reunion With Philippe Coutinho Ahead of Crunch Semi

Jurgen Klopp has admitted that Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho’s return to Anfield in the Champions League semi-finals will be ‘special’ for both the players and the club. 

Klopp’s Reds stormed past Porto on Wednesday night, beating the Portuguese side 4-1 to seal a routine 6-1 aggregate win. 

Suarez left Merseyside almost five years ago after the Reds’ last title challenge, while Coutinho headed for Catalunya in January 2018 in a move which made him the third most expensive footballer of all time. 

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He said, quoted by ?The Metro: “For them [Coutinho and Suarez], for these two boys, it’s very special. For us, it’s special. They are both Liverpool legends, that’s brilliant.”

Despite the undeniable brilliance of the two, Liverpool will go into the tie with a real chance of reaching their second European final in two seasons – this time without Loris Karius between the sticks. 

The man standing between the Reds and the Wanda Metropolitano is Lionel Messi, whose two goals on Tuesday night killed any chance Manchester United had of facing their old Premier KLeague rivals in the semis. 

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Klopp admitted that he was grateful to have a little time before having to think about stopping the Argentine, adding: “Thank God I don’t have to think about that tonight. I have a few more nights to think about that. So many teams tried [to stop Messi] but nobody really did it. We have so many jobs to do before we meet Barcelona though. Let’s first play these games and we will see.”

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