Lionel Messi Insists His Side ‘Need’ Ousmane Dembele After Forward Shines in Barcelona Win

?Lionel Messi has insisted that Barcelona need Ousmane Dembele and praised the Frenchman’s performance after the attacking duo both got on the score sheet in their side’s 4-0 win over Espanyol on Saturday.

Messi stole the show at the RCDE Stadium with a decisive brace as the Argentine led his side to victory in trademark style, but his attacking partner Dembele was also among the bright points for the La Liga champions.

RCD Espanyol v FC Barcelona - La Liga

The World Cup winner has had a mixed start to life at the Camp Nou since arriving from ?Borussia Dortmund in 2017, with injuries and inconsistent form limiting his development. However, according to Marca via sport360, ?Messi insisted: “He’s very good.

“He wants to play, he had a good game, scored a goal and was important. We need him.”

?Dembele started the match in a front three, alongside Messi and ?Luis Suarez, and ?Barcelona benefited in attack from the added dimension that the Frenchman provided.


Though Suarez also got on the scoresheet, pressure has grown increasingly on both the Uruguayan and Messi in recent times to shoulder Barcelona’s goal scoring burden, with a lack of depth in the attacking ranks beyond the South American duo.

However, Dembele’s strike on Saturday was evidence that the 21-year-old is capable of adding the kind of added attacking thrust that ?Neymar once did before him on the left hand side of Barca’s attack.

Dembele’s mixed fortunes to date in a Barcelona shirt have seen the winger linked with a move away from the Camp Nou in search of more first team football, with ?Arsenal regularly linked with the forward.

However, Dembele has now scored six goals in 14 La Liga appearances this term, suggesting that the Frenchman may be starting to rediscover his form at the Camp Nou.

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Barcelona Reportedly Plotting Staggering £200m Move for Tottenham Star Harry Kane as Priority Target

?Barcelona have reportedly identified Tottenham star Harry Kane as a priority transfer target ahead of next summer – and would be prepared to splash out £200m to seal the deal.

The La Liga champions are said to be on the lookout for a long-term replacement for current first choice centre forward Luis Suarez, with the Uruguayan approaching 32 and struggling with consistent knee problems.


A lack of a ready-made successor to ?Suarez has apparently prompted ?Barcelona to seek a world-class replacement on the transfer market, with England superstar ?Kane emerging at the top of their list, according to the ?Daily Star.

Ernesto Valverde’s side will get a first-hand experience of Kane’s qualities when they face ?Tottenham in their final match of the Champions League group stage on Tuesday.

Kane was named on the bench by Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino for Saturday’s 2-0 win over ?Leicester City. Though the 25-year-old was brought on as a 74th minute substitute at the King Power Stadium, it was a clear sign of intent from the Tottenham boss ahead of Tuesday.

It is a case of all-or-nothing for Spurs as they head into their huge encounter with the Catalan giants at the Camp Nou, with the north London side currently level on points with ?Inter in Group B and needing to win to keep their hopes of progression in their own hands.

Kane is clearly crucial to Pochettino’s plans ahead of the showdown and has kept his star man rested to ensure that the striker is in top form in Catalonia.


Should Kane deliver the goods at the Camp Nou, however, it is only likely to further entice the hosts into making a future move for Tottenham’s star man.

Spurs are said to be desperate to keep hold of Kane ahead of their move into their new stadium but are apparently wary of the delay on the move and the great costs of their new home, making them potentially open to any bids which exceed £150m.

PSG prodigy ?Kylian Mbappe, ?Everton’s new star Richarlison and ?Atletico Madrid superstar Antoine Griezmann are also said to feature among Barca’s attacking targets, though Kane is apparently their priority option.

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Ernesto Valverde Heaps Praise on Lionel Messi After Masterclass in Barca’s Win Over Espanyol

Ernesto Valverde has hailed Lionel Messi as ‘extraordinary’ after his two free kicks helped Barcelona secure a comfortable 4-0 win over local rivals Espanyol at the RCDE Stadium.

Following an even start to the game, the Argentine put his side in front just shy of the 20 minute mark in spectacular fashion, bending a free kick from around 30 yards out into the top corner leaving Diego Lopez with no chance of stopping it. Messi then turned provider after he put Ousmane Dembele through on goal who curled a magnificent effort into the top corner to double Barcelona’s lead.

RCD Espanyol v FC Barcelona - La Liga

After hitting the post twice in quick succession, Luis Suarez then got in on the act finishing from a very tight angle to send the visitors into the half time break with a three-goal lead. If anyone thought ?Messi’s first free kick was a fluke he certainly proved them wrong just after the hour mark, scoring from a similar distance from yet another free kick which flew into the top corner.

It was a true masterclass from the Argentine which helped secure a ?4-0 win for his side, and speaking to Marca (via ?Yahoo Sport) after the game, Valverde admitted how fortunate he is to have Messi in his team. He said: “Messi is just extraordinary. The two goals, the chances created and what he gives us, he is extraordinary.

“What am I going to say about Leo? He can unlock any game, having him with us is infinite good fortune. We are in an unrepeatable time to see a football player like him.”

It proved to be an important win with Barcelona heading into the game level on points at the top of the table with both Atletico Madrid and Sevilla following results earlier in the day. The win means Barca now go three points clear as stand-alone leaders at the top of ?La Liga, however Valverde refused to read much into the current league standings.

He added: “It is still early and everything is very tight. The idea is for us to keep getting better and stronger in away games but we know how hard it is to beat anyone in this league.

“We knew about the danger of Espanyol, especially at home. A derby is always special. They are a team that, aside from the last game, had won all of their matches here. We wanted to dominate and little by little we managed to do that and I think the 3-0 [at half-time] reflected how the match went.”

Valverde’s men will now turn their attention to Tuesday night when they face Tottenham in the Champions League, although the pressure will be off the Catalan giants having already secured their qualification into the knockout stages with a game to spare.

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Espanyol 0-4 Barcelona: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Messi Leads Barca to El Derbi Barceloni Win

Two spectacular Lionel Messi free kicks helped Barcelona secure a comfortable 4-0 win over local rivals Espanyol at the RCDE Stadium.

It was a tense start to the game with both teams enjoying their fair share of possession, however it was the visitors who got the breakthrough in spectacular fashion. Lionel Messi stood over a free kick around 30 yards away from the goal, and in typical Messi fashion curled the ball over the wall and right into the top corner, giving us another magical moment from the Argentine. 

RCD Espanyol v FC Barcelona - La Liga

The goal seemed to settle a few ?Barcelona nerves, and they soon doubled their lead. A dazzling run from ?Messi looked to have been halted by the Espanyol defence, however he then showed great vision to pick out ?Ousmane Dembele who curled a wonderful effort past Diego Lopez into his top corner once again. 

The visitors went close once again soon after with both ?Luis Suarez and Messi hitting the post in quick succession, but they weren’t to be denied a third goal before half time. 

Suarez was played through by Dembele and did well to shrug off a defender, and with hardly an angle to work with somehow managed to steer the ball through the keepers legs and into the back of the net.

FBL-ESP-LIGA-ESPANYOL-BARCELONA

If anyone thought Messi’s first half free kick was a fluke, then he certainly proved the doubters wrong with yet another spectacular free kick from a similar distance in the second half. It was the same result, with the ball flying past Lopez into the top corner to make it 4-0 to the visitors. 

Oscar Duarte thought he’d grabbed a consolation goal for the home side, however the goal was reviewed and eventually brought back for offside – much to the displeasure of the home fans left in the stadium. The game finished 4-0 on what was a night to remember for Barcelona, here’s a breakdown of the evening’s events:


ESPANYOL

Player Ratings

Starting XI: Diego Lopez (5); Javi Lopez (6), David Lopez (5), Duarte (6), Vila (5); Sanchez (6), Roca (5), Darder (5); Perez (5), Iglesias (6), Melendo (5). 

Substitutes: Baptistao (6), Garcia (6), Granero (6).


BARCELONA

Key Talking Point

On paper this could’ve been a very tough night for Barcelona, going up against an Espanyol side who had made a great start to their ?La Liga campaign. There was even more pressure put on the Catalan giants given the fact that due to other results prior to the game, as both Atletico Madrid and Sevilla had gone level on points with Ernesto Valverde’s men ahead of the game.

RCD Espanyol v FC Barcelona - La Liga

However, Barcelona certainly took care of business on the night. They’ve been prone to leaving matters late so far this season relying on late goals to earn points, however tonight they got their business done early with three magnificent first half goals. They looked in control at all times and never looked like letting the hosts back into the game.

They’ve extended their lead at the top of La Liga to three points and we were treated to a special performance from one of the hottest sides in European football at this present moment.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: ter Stegen (7); Semedo (8), Pique (7), Lenglet (7), Alba (7); Rakitic (8), Busquets (7), Vidal (7); Messi (10), L. Suarez (8), Dembele (9). 

Substitutes: Coutinho (6), Munir (6), D. Suarez (6).


STAR MAN – There will be any surprise as to whom was the best player on the night. Messi ran the show from start to finish and showed exactly why he is one of the, if not the best player in the world at the moment.

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He scored two spectacular free kicks and a dazzling run in the first half helped set up another for Barcelona, proving to be unstoppable on the night. The Espanyol defence had no answer to the Argentine, who certainly put on yet another masterclass in what was an emphatic win with a performance which will certainly spark the Ballon d’Or debate once again.

WORST PLAYER – It’s not often when a defender keeps a clean sheet but ends up being one of the worst performers on the night, however in fairness to Clement Lenglet he didn’t have much to do throughout the game. He did what he had to do and stopped Espanyol from scoring, however the Barca defence was never really threatened.

PSV v FC Barcelona - UEFA Champions League

On a night where Valverde’s attackers stole the show with some spectacular performances, Lenglet was always going to be overshadowed and he certainly won’t be frustrated by having nothing to do at the back.


Looking Ahead

The win means that Barcelona have opened a three-point cushion at the top of La Liga ahead of Atletico Madrid and Sevilla, and having already secured their qualification into the knockout stages of the Champions League, their clash with Tottenham on Tuesday night will be a mere formality before they travel to face Levante in La Liga on Sunday night.

Espanyol v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander

As for Espanyol, they’ve now lost their last four La Liga games, and will be desperate to end their torrid run when they host Real Betis on Sunday afternoon.

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Starting XI of Current Footballers Who Followed in the Footsteps of ’90s Legends

If you ever wanted to feel old, you’re in the right place. It’s now been nearly 19 years since the end of the heady era of the 1990s. That means the icons we grew up admiring in that era have now long since retired and started families. In fact, some of their offspring have even followed in their footsteps and gone on to have successful careers of their own. 

We’ve taken the liberty of compiling a starting XI of current players who are following in the footsteps of ’90s legends: 

1. GK: Kasper Schmeichel – Peter Schmeichel

Peter Schmeichel is synonymous with success at Manchester United. Joining off the back of three Danish league titles, Schmeichel helped Alex Ferguson to his first Premier League title with the Red Devils. United went on to win four of the next six league titles, with Schmeichel also lifting three FA Cups and a Champions League trophy in his time in Manchester. 

His son Kasper actually came through the ranks at bitter rivals Manchester City but never made an impact on the first team. Struggling in the early stages of his career, Kasper found his feet at Leicester City. Helping the Foxes return to the top flight and playing an integral role in their shock title win in 2016.  

2. CB: Christian Maldini – Paolo Maldini

Paolo Maldini was a one club man during a period of European dominance for Italian giants AC Milan. Lifting an impressive seven Serie A trophies and five European Cup/Champions League trophies in a 24 year stint at the club. He also enjoyed a great international career although he never quite tasted success despite reaching a World Cup final, a Euro final and an Under-21 Euro final. 

Christian Maldini hoped to emulate his famous father starting out a career at AC Milan but things didn’t quite work out. Maldini was released by AC Milan, joining Serie C side Reggio Audace but quickly being loaned out to Maltese side Hamrun Spartans. He had two other unsuccessful spells with Pro Sesto and Fondi before joining Pro Piacenza this year. 

3. CB: Alex Bruce – Steve Bruce

Steve Bruce has had as successful a career as a manager as he did as a player. In the ’90s though he was Peter Schmeichel’s teammate in that famous Manchester United team. Bruce had left before the Champions League triumph but lifted the rest of those honours in Ferguson’s early years. 

His son Alex hasn’t had quite as glamorous a career, spending the majority of his time in England’s second tier. Alex played under his famous father twice having been on the books at Birmingham and Hull City while his dad was a manager there. It was at Hull where the duo struck a cord, earning promotion to the top flight and reaching the FA Cup final. 

4. CB: Daley Blind – Danny Blind

Danny Blind was a star centre-half for Dutch side Ajax who were still a European powerhouse in the ’90s. Blind won five league titles and four KNVB Cups in his time with the Dutch side as well as the last of Ajax’s European trophies in 1995. He is one of only two Dutchmen in history to lift the Champions League, UEFA Cup, UEFA Super Cup and Intercontinental Cup. 

His son Daley Blind has forged a respectable career of his own but is perhaps best known for a faltering spell at Manchester United. After coming through the ranks at Ajax he completed a £13m move to United but never really found his feet in four years at the club. Blind finally returned to Ajax last summer.  

5. CM: Thiago Alcantara – Mazinho

Mazinho had a prominent career in the ’90s in Italy, Spain and Brazil but it was domestically where he enjoyed his most success. Winning four Brazilian league titles and six other major domestic honours. He is probably best remembered on this continent as a member of the Brazil 1994 World Cup winning team. 

His son Thiago Alcantara won’t be following in his footsteps in that respect after he switched allegiances to Spain. Coming through Barcelona’s famed La Masia Academy, Alcantara was lauded as one of the best young talents in Europe when German giants Bayern Munich swept him up in 2013. 

6. CM: Rafinha Alcantara – Mazinho

Thiago isn’t the only of Mazinho’s children to become a modern day star, the Brazilian may end up been better remembered for his famous sons. Thiago’s brother Rafinha also came through the ranks at Barcelona’s La Masia Academy. 

Rafinha remained with Barcelona winning two La Liga crowns and the 2015 Champions League with the Spanish side. He has spent loan spells with Celta Vigo and Inter but remains at Barcelona to this day. 

7. RM: Tom Ince – Paul Ince

Paul Ince played for both Manchester United and Liverpool during the 90’s, but it was at the former where he had the most success. Another significant part of Ferguson’s early triumphs that provided the foundation for 20 years of success. 

His son Tom has been a star in England’s second tier but has never quite made it in the top flight despite four attempts. Having previously starred for Blackpool and Derby in the Championship, Ince was recently snapped up by relegated Stoke City. He’s not quite hit top form but he has been a significant addition for the Potters as their joint top scorer so far this season.

8. LM: Justin Kluivert – Patrick Kluivert

Patrick Kluivert was once Danny Blind’s teammate at that famous Ajax side where he began a glittering career. After helping Ajax to the league title and Champions League trophy, Kluivert was snapped up by Italian giants AC Milan. From there he spent six years at Barcelona and a season in the Premier League with Newcastle before returning to win a final Eredivisie with PSV. 

His son Justin enjoyed a impressive debut campaign at Ajax at the age of just 17, becoming a first team regular the following year. His 11 goals from 36 appearances saw him continue to follow in his father’s footsteps with a switch to Serie A, joining Roma this summer. 

9. FW: Rivaldinho – Rivaldo

Rivaldo is a player that needs little introduction, the highlights of his nomadic career being consecutive La Liga triumphs with Barcelona and lifting the Champions League with AC Milan. Like Mazinho, it was on the international scene where he had the greatest impact as a member of arguably the best Brazil squad in history. Reaching the 1998 World Cup final before lifting the trophy the trophy in 2002. 

His son Rivaldinho has a lot to live up to, the highlight of his career so far being a brief stint with Boavista in the Primeria Liga. He currently plies his trade in the Bulgarian top flight with Levski Sofia. 

10. FW: Bradley Wright-Phillps – Ian Wright

Born in Woolwich Arsenal, Ian Wright got to live the dream becoming a legend for his boyhood club Arsenal in the ’90s. With 185 goals in all competitions he remains one of the Gunners all-time top scorers, lifting five major honours with the club. 

Wright also of course fathered Shaun Wright-Phillips who enjoyed a more illustrious career but he’s now retired too and it’s Bradley who came closer to replicating his father. After a stuttering career in England, Bradley Wright Phillips made the switch to the MLS. Bradley has established himself as one of the most potent scorers in the MLS with New York Red Bulls scoring 124 goals in five years at the club.

11. FW: Timothy Weah – George Weah

George Weah is often regarded as the greatest African player of all time having, amassed a wealth of personal honours, including the Ballon d’Or. Spending the best part of his career with Monaco, PSG and AC Milan, Weah also helped Liberia qualify for consecutive African Cup of Nations and come within a point of their first ever World Cup finals in 2002. 

His son Timothy is created quite a buzz in America after staring in the youth leagues and attracting interest from PSG, who moved him to their own academy in 2014. At just 18, he already has eight full international caps and his first senior international goal. He also made his debut for PSG this year an already has two goals from his first six senior games for the club. 

12. SUB: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – Mark Chamberlain

Mark Chamberlain may not have had as star studded a career as some of the others on this list but he remains a legend in his hometown of Stoke-on-Trent. Having turned out for both Port Vale and Stoke City, Chamberlain went on to have an impressive career across England’s four tiers, joining top flight Sheffield Wednesday before spells with Portsmouth and Brighton. 

His son Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has surpassed his father in many ways carving out a career at Arsenal and Liverpool. Injuries have blighted his career somewhat but he remains a key player for both club country when fit. 

13. SUB: Sveinn Aron Gudjohnsen – Eidur Gudjohnsen

Eidur Gudjohnsen first made his name at Chelsea, helping them to their first league title in 50 years. Gudjohnsen and Chelsea followed up by lifting the league title again the following year, it wasn’t long before Barcelona came calling. Spending three years with the Spanish giants before moving on to Monaco and Tottenham. 

Gudjohnsen has three sons Andri Lucas, Daniel Tristan and Sveinn Aron all of whom are pursuing careers in football. It’s eldest Aron though who was the first to sign a professional contract having played for three Icelandic clubs, Aron joined Serie B side Spezia in the summer. 

14. SUB: Ianis Hagi – Gheorghe Hagi

Gheorghe Hagi remains the most famous Romanian player in history having played for both Real Madrid and Barcelona. Hagi made a name for himself at Steaua Bucuresti winning six major honours including a UEFA Super Cup. He went on to spend two years at each of the Spanish giants before enjoying a trophy-laden five year spell with Galatasaray. 

His son Ianis was tipped to be one of Europe’s bright young stars when Fiorentina signed the teenager in 2016. He never really got his chance in Florence though making just two appearances in two years before returning to his native Romania with Viitorul Constanta in January this year. After an impressive return to form, Ianis Hagi was nominated for the 2018 European Golden Boy award, the second nomination of his career. 

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