Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos has urged Arsenal contract rebel Mesut Ozil ?to reject Barcelona in January.
According to Don Balon, Ramos has told former teammate Ozil over the phone to decline a move to the Nou Camp, however plenty of transfer rumours have come out that the 29-year-old is set on a move to Barca, and the Catalans are equally keen on Ozil.
??Ozil and Ramos enjoyed great success together at the Bernabeu between 2010 and 2013, winning a Copa Del Rey and a La Liga title, with Ozil establishing himself as one of the best attacking midfielders in the world.
Gareth Bale’s arrival that summer saw Ozil leave for Arsenal, but the German has struggled to repeat the same form on a consistent basis, often coming under fire for poor displays in big games.
Barcelona maintained their four-point lead at the top of La Liga on Sunday evening thanks to a controversy-filled 1-1 draw with second-place Valencia on the shores of the Mediterranean sea.
A goal for either side in the second-half were enough to the share the spoils, with Rodrigo opening the scoring from close range before Jordi Alba pulled his side level with a superb finish 10 minutes removed from full-time.
However, the clash will always be remembered, as many are, for an incident involving Lionel Messi, who on this occasion did not find the back of the net, but only due to the official who had not noticed it had crossed the line.
The Argentine’s ‘ghost goal’ will take the headlines from a true battle of giants, however Valencia showed more than enough to prove their current league standing is a deserved one and could well be on the Catalonians’ tail for the remainder of the campaign.
The night started out on a rather emotional note from both sides, with Barca entering the Mestalla Stadium sporting ‘#AguanteToto’ shirts in dedication of Sevilla coach Eduardo Berizzo, after the 48-year-old announced he was suffering from cancer in midweek.
This was followed by a moment of remembrance for former Valencia president Jaume Orti, who sadly passed away on Friday at the age of 70 after losing his battle with lung cancer.
However, as proceedings commenced it was an expectedly dominant opening of possession by the visitors, however Ernetso Valverde’s side struggled to really utilise it effectively and impact the game in the attacking third with any real substance.
Aside from the few pot shots from distance courtesy of Ivan Rakitic and Paulinho, Valencia goalkeeper Neto had little of significance to deal with as play remained condensed in the midfield as a result of both sides’ cagey set-up.
This is not how Valencia got to where they are. Poor. Barcelona, superb with and without the ball
— Guillem Balague (@GuillemBalague) November 26, 2017
However, a fairly uneventful first half-hour then burst into life in an extremely controversial way, as the lack of goal-line technology in Spanish top flight football proved incredibly costly for Barcelona and Lionel Messi once again.
The Argentine wizard was found on the edge of the area before unleashing his powerful first-time drive towards goal. The attempt looked a simple claim for goalkeeper Neto, however the Brazilian’s controlling palm to the floor allowed the ball to skip through his legs and make its way towards the back of the net.
The 28-year-old eventually clawed the backspinning attempt away after realising his mistake, however replays showed that the had ball clearly crossed the line before doing so, and by some distance.
However, the official was not up with play and deemed the custodian to have made a save, the second time in 2017 the Catalonians have been denied a perfectly legal goal, with Real Betis’ over-the-line clearance from Luis Suarez sparking outrage last season.
After the ‘ghost goal’ Barca seemingly lost a slight edge to their play, and despite continuing to see much of the ball, were unable to convert that possession into opportunities with the scores remaining level at the break.
As the second 45 got underway it was clear to see the hosts were attempting to implement a more proactive game plan, a technique that has made them such a dominant force so far this term and something they did not do at all during the first-half.
Rather unsurprisingly it took just 15 minutes of the second period for the hosts’ more offensive outlook to pay dividends, as Rodrigo tapped home from close range to spark scenes of absolute jubilation inside the Mestalla Stadium.
The move started out with Goncalo Guedes holding up play on the edge of the 18-yard box before utilising the overlap of left-back Jose Gaya, who drove into the area and teed up his Brazilian-born Spain international teammate for the simplest of finishes with a low cross across the face of goal.
Rodrigo’s 13 games for Valencia this season:
?? Goal pic.twitter.com/eMhavrS4Ey
— bet365 (@bet365) November 26, 2017
After going behind Barca continued to plug away in their efforts to draw level, and eventually they were rewarded, as Alba applied a clinical finish and volleyed home against his former club from close range after latching onto the end of a sublime Messi pass from deep.
Following the Spanish left-back silencing those who once cheered his name, the tie opened up, and had Simone Zaza been able to apply a little more composure in the last kick of the game, Valencia would have secured all three points.
As it was though he did not, and the spoils were shared from what was a truly great La Liga clash.
?Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil is said to be ready to listen to an offer from Spanish giants Barcelona.
The German midfielder will be out of contract next summer and will be free to speak to other clubs as a result and according to ?The Sun, he has his heart set on a return to Spain.
Paris Saint-Germain are also thought to be interested, as they are one of the few clubs able to match the £330,000-a-week wage demands that would accompany the free transfer. But Manchester United and Fenerbahce are also monitoring things and should approach the player with an offer at the beginning of next year.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, though, has confirmed that ?Ozil has not agreed anything with Barcelona as things stand, but admits that he has no control over the situation.
Asked if the player had already pledged his future to the Catalan side, Wenger replied:
“What kind of control can I have over that? All these people have agents who can talk to anybody. That doesn’t disturb people, that happens all through their career.
“Nobody knows what will happen when the players [Ozil and Alexis Sanchez] reach the end of their contracts. Our worry is to perform on Sunday, that’s it.
“They want to turn up and put in good performances. I have no concerns. I am more concerned about the team performance.
“Ozil and Alexis are praised when the team is doing well because of them, and when the team doesn’t do well they get more criticism. I’m more concerned that the team focuses on strong performances.”
Members of the Barcelona squad have thrown their backing behind former teammate Neymar’s ?Charity project for underprivileged Sao Paulo kids.
The now-Paris Saint-Germain attacker heads the Instituto Projeto Neymar Junior in his native Brazil. And the likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Gerard Pique will be lending their support at an annual gala for the foundation in December.
Neymar, who grew up in Sao Paulo, began the project in 2014. Kids now live and study there.
“I lived two blocks from here and I know how it was in my childhood,” he said.
“I knew we didn’t have opportunities. So this (the institute) is a giant door for us to give opportunities to the people here.
“For me it is a pleasure for the FCB Foundation to be involved with this social project which is a personal one for me.
“I enjoy helping the boys and girls in the neighbourhood where I grew up. I know that people have been waiting for this project for a long time.”
Per r?ecent reports, the Brazilian is said to be disenchanted with his his new team and doesn’t believe that he should play every match.
He has since denied said reports, but the rumours of his unhappiness in Paris keep mounting.
Fresh from putting pen to paper on a new deal, ?Lionel Messi has expressed his delight at extending his time with the club he calls ‘home,’ reaffirming his desire to finish his career as a one-club player.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has been part of a long-winded saga which has surrounded his commitment to the Spanish side, but his new contract – which contains a €700m buyout clause – has expelled all suggestions that he was set to leave Camp Nou.
After signing his new deal on Saturday, Messi told the ?club’s website: “I’m happy to continue with the Club, which is my home.
“My dream was to finish my career at Barça and we are moving down that path.
“The objective is to continue achieving things, fill the club’s trophy cases, and keep making history at Barça. We’ve been lucky enough to have won a great many things and I hope there will be more in the future.”
The 30-year-old joined Barcelona as a fresh-faced 13-year-old and the club’s president, Josep Maria Bartomeu is delighted that Messi has committed his career to the club.
He said: “It’s a great contract for the best player in football history. It fills me with pride to see him with us renewing his love for the Club.
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“It’s a new contract that we have signed today, because although the one we signed in June was up to par with his greatness as a player, the new one is more in line with the current situation in the ever-changing world of football.
“The buyout clause had to be modified, and it has gone from €300m to €700m,” he added.