Ernesto Valverde Admits He Doesn’t ‘Know Much About’ Reported Barcelona Target Arthur

?Ernesto Valverde has spoken out about rumours that Barcelona could be set to prise Arthur Henrique away from Gremio in January.

La Blaugrana’s manager was quoted by ?AS as he revealed that he had no comment to make on the links, as he is unaware of any potential interest and doesn’t know much about the Brazilian starlet.

Arthur has been touted as a future Barcelona player after impressing for Gremio in his homeland, but Valverde refused to be drawn on the speculation that has tipped the Catalan giants to move for the 21-year-old.

FC Barcelona v Sporting CP - UEFA Champions League

He said: “I know there has been a lot of speculation, but I have heard it from afar. The truth is that I do not know much about the player, so I can not comment too much.”

Arthur was pictured wearing a Barcelona home shirt with Andre Cury – the man who was responsible for helping the current La Liga leaders snap Neymar up from Santos back in the summer of 2011.

Cury is thought to be close to Arthur and his ties with Barcelona have led to plenty of gossip columns alleging that a switch from South America to Europe for Arthur must be on the cards.

Rumours coming out of Brazil had suggested that a €35m had been made for Arthur recently, while speculation has suggested that he could be available for €50m to a release clause fee in his contract.

Arthur only made his senior debut for Gremio on 11th December 2016 as he came off the bench in the Brazilian Serie A clash against Botafogo. The centre midfielder has since gone on to amass 40 appearances in the past year for his club, and netted his maiden senior goal in the 3-1 away win over EC Vitoria in July.

His form for Gremio has made him a surefire pick for manager Renato Portaluppi in recent times, although Arthur has not been part of the 18-man match day squad for each of the last three league games.

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Arthur has been called up to the senior Brazilian national side in the last two international breaks, but has not made his senior bow for his country at that level yet.


Barca President Bartomeu Speaks Out Over Arda Turan Galatasaray Rumours

?Josep Maria Bartomeu has spoken of his wish to see Barcelona misfit Arda Turan stay with Barcelona amid growing speculation over a return to Galatasaray.

The 30-year-old forward is out of favour at Camp Nou and has been tipped to make a sensational return to his homeland with the Turkish giants.

However, in an interview with Turkish publication Fanatik (h/t ?Mundo Deportivo) the club’s president Bartomeu admitted that he was not aware of any offer from Galatasaray currently, and stated that he would like to see Turan remain in Catalonia.

FC Barcelona v CA Osasuna - La Liga

He said: “Arda Turan is one of the important players of our team. Obviously I want him to continue his sports career here with us. 

“Now he was inactive because of an injury, but he is already in better shape. We will see what happens when he is fully recovered and ready for his coach.

“We have not received any official offer from Galatasaray or any other club by Arda Turan. The future of Arda Turan is in your hands. It will be he who will finally decide his destiny.”

Turan is unavailable for selection at the present time due to a bruised toe, but has not made a single appearance for La Blaugrana’s first team this season under manager Ernesto Valverde.

The ex-Atletico Madrid star has struggled to impose himself on the senior set up with Barcelona due to a myriad of injuries, and was unable to make his debut for them for six months due to a transfer embargo.

All of the above has led media reports to suspect that a return to Turkey is imminent, with Galatasaray linked with their former star and a posssible January window transfer in the offing.

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With Bartomeu’s latest comments, it would seem that Turan still has one Barca fan rooting for him, but question marks remain if he will stay past 31st January or head for pastures new.


7 Potential Destinations for Steven N’Zonzi After Midfielder Confirms He Will Leave Sevilla

“My future is clearly away from Seville,” Steven N’Zonzi has revealed. “The only thing that disappoints me is the way it has ended.” 

And with that there will be numerous clubs queuing up to acquire his services. Having fallen out with Sevilla coach Eduardo Berizzo, it appears the 28-year-old midfielder is now available, and potentially at a cut price.

There will not be a shortage of suitors. Since his days at Blackburn under Sam Allardyce, N’Zonzi has established himself as an accomplished, composed midfielder, impressing in Andalusia and attracting the admiring glances of clubs elsewhere in Europe.

Here are seven potential destinations for the disillusioned Frenchman.

7. Arsenal

N’Zonzi has been repeatedly linked with a move to Arsenal in recent weeks, and it is no surprise.

A powerful, imposing presence in midfield, he would provide the steel that the Gunners have long required. He is far more than just a destructive, defensive player though. N’Zonzi is an excellent passer, able to control the tempo of games from deep and would likely fit in with ease at the Emirates.

With news that he is currently in London, it could be that Arsenal have acted quickly. A release clause of £35m is certainly affordable.

6. Everton

Everton, set for a potential revitalisation under the leadership of Sam Allardyce, have also been linked with N’Zonzi.

As previously mentioned, the Sevilla man played under Allardyce at Blackburn, and could perhaps be tempted by an approach from his former boss. Everton’s manager is a fan of N’Zonzi. He reportedly even looked into his eligibility to play for England while still in charge of the national team.

With that in mind, as well as Everton’s need for improvement, it could be that N’Zonzi is a prime target for the Toffees.

5. Roma

It seems inevitable that Roma will be interested in N’Zonzi. That’s because the Serie A club signed Monchi in the summer, the director of football mastermind who had been behind Sevilla’s most successful signings prior to his move to Italy.

Monchi will know N’Zonzi well; he will know of his qualities, of his impressive performances in the Andalusian capital over the last two years.

And that knowledge could be enough to prompt a reunion. It would be an interesting career move for N’Zonzi, and he could work well in Eusebio Di Francesco’s system.

4. Liverpool

Liverpool look set to lose Emre Can, and could soon be on the lookout for a midfielder of N’Zonzi’s ilk.

The Frenchman would slot in well to Jurgen Klopp’s high-tempo football, and would perhaps introduce a solidity at times lacking when Liverpool surge forward. 

Whether the Reds will pursue N’Zonzi remains to be seen, although it would not be a surprise to see them amongst a group of Premier League clubs interested.

3. Juventus

There were reports in the summer that N’Zonzi had agreed a deal to sign for Serie A champions Juventus, although that clearly did not materialise.

But their interest is unlikely to have entirely diminished. If Juventus are still on the lookout for a midfielder, it may be that N’Zonzi is the ideal man.

In a side capable of dominating opposition, he is often imperious. But he can do the other side of it, too. The Bianconeri often set up defensively in big games – as they did against Napoli last week – and N’Zonzi is as capable off the ball as he is on it.

2. Leicester

“I love the Premier League,” N’Zonzi has said. “I really like the Premier League, this is where I started at a good level.”

If you’re wondering why there are so many Premier League clubs included in this list, that is partly the reason. N’Zonzi has an affinity with English football given his history, and English clubs appear to like him, too.

Leicester were rumoured to have been monitoring him in the summer, but they could face a difficult battle with some reputable clubs, if they attempt to reignite their interest. 

1. Barcelona

N’Zonzi’s impressive form has come in La Liga, so it’s understandable that clubs in that division will have taken notice.

Barcelona were rumoured to have identified the former Blackburn and Stoke man as a potential backup option to Sergio Busquets last year, and it could be that they are still interested.

He would likely thrive in the role, although a mere backup might not appeal to a player with the ambition of N’Zonzi.


Champions League Round-Up: Man Utd Top Group But Chelsea Through as Runners-Up After Roma Win

?Manchester United came from a goal behind to beat CSKA Moscow and secure top spot in Group A in the Champions League.

Alan Dzagoev gave the Russians the lead before two second-half goals in three minutes from Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford, who both ended lengthy scoring droughts, ensured the Red Devils progressed as group winners, Basel qualifying as runners-up after beating Benfica.


The game of the evening took place at the Allianz Arena as Bayern Munich hosted Paris Saint-Germain, and it certainly lived up to its billing.

Robert Lewandowski gave the hosts the lead, sweeping home from close range after being played onside by Dani Alves, before the unmarked Corentin Tolisso made it two with a header.

PSG responded with a terrific team goal, Kylian Mbappe heading home after great work from Marco Verratti and Edinson Cavani, but former Lyon midfielder Tolisso made sure of the result, slamming home from Kingsley Coman’s cut-back. 

Bayern Muenchen v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League

PSG qualified as winners of Group B, Bayern finishing second, while Anderlecht beat Scottish champions Celtic, who secured a Europa League spot despite the 1-0 loss.

There was drama aplenty in Group C as Roma finished top, beating Chelsea to prime position after winning against minnows Qarabag 1-0 thanks to Diego Perotti’s headed effort.


Atletico Madrid needed to beat Chelsea and hope Azerbaijanian outfit Qarabag could hold Roma, and even took the lead at Stamford Bridge through Saul Niguez, but Stefan Savic’s own goal consigned Diego Simeone’s men to the Europa League.

The result means Antonio Conte’s Blues could be drawn against the likes of Barcelona and PSG in the next round.

Barcelona and Juventus, who had both already qualified from Group D ahead of ties against Sporting CP and Olympiacos, picked up routine 2-0 victories.

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Paco Alcacer’s near post flick and Jeremy Mathieu’s own goal helped Barca ease past Sporting and ensured they won Group D, while Juan Cuadrado and Federico Bernardeschi wrapped things up for Juventus against Olympiacos.


Barcelona 2-0 Sporting CP: Catalans Top Group D to Go Through to Round of 16

Barcelona maintained their unbeaten Champions League record and won their group on Tuesday night after easily beating Sporting CP 2-0 at the Camp Nou.

There was a rare start for Thomas Vermaelen after Samuel Umtiti’s picked up a hamstring injury during the weekend’s disappointing 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo, which will keep him out for at least two months.

Lionel Messi was rested, allowing Paco Alcacer his first European appearance of the season. Sporting’s star striker Bas Dost was surprisingly left on the bench, with attacking midfielder Alan Ruiz starting alone up front, much to the annoyance of their fans as hopes of qualification were slim but not impossible.

Barcelona appeared to start in cruise control knowing full well that they had already secured the top spot in Group D. Luis Suarez had the only opportunity of the first-half, as he delightfully flicked the ball around an onrushing Sporting defender but could only toe poke the ball straight at Rui Patricio.

The only negative of the game came when Nelson Semedo received a soft yellow card which rules him out of the first leg of the round of 16. ?

Barcelona finally broke through in the 59th minute when in-form striker Alcacer headed in from a corner, a first goal on his first Champions League appearance of the season. This didn’t prompt them to take their foot off the gas – if anything it did the opposite as just one minute later, Messi came on in place of right-back Aleix Vidal.

In the 62nd minute, Jasper Cillessen was called upon for the first time after Gelson Martins’ delightful cross put the ball on a platter for Dost, but the Dutchman’s shot was straight at his compatriot and the two shared an embrace afterwards in recognition of the fantastic reflex save.

Barcelona’s star man Lionel Messi almost doubled their lead with eight minutes remaining but his curling left-footed shot was at a comfortable height for Patricio to palm away. Sporting instantly replied on the counter but their marksman Dost could not keep his volley on target as the ball fell from the heavens.

The Catalan club again almost added to their lead in the 89th minute as Messi played through Alcacer beautifully but his shot was blocked, with the deflection bouncing just wide of Patricio’s goal.

They finally made it 2-0 in the last minute of the game and it was one of their former players who got the goal…

The unfortunate Jeremy Matheiu – who left Barca for Sporting on a free in the summer – could only turn the ball into his own net as he sprinted back to block Denis Suarez’s low cross.

Sporting will continue their European campaign in the Europa League as they finished third above bottom placed Olympiacos, whereas Barcelona await the draw on December 11 to find out their opponents for the Round of 16.




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