Andres Iniesta Posts Emotional Farewell Officially Announcing Retirement From International Football

Spain legend Andres Iniesta has officially announced his retirement from international football. The former ?Barcelona midfielder amassed an incredible 131 appearances for La Roja at senior level, scoring 13 times and winning the European Championship on two occasions, as well as the ?World Cup – and now he’s finally stood down, aged 34.

To say Iniesta’s decision to retire isn’t a surprise would be an understatement. Following his departure from Barcelona, the midfield maestro travelled to Russia this summer in hopes of one last hurrah before bowing out; a second World Cup triumph would’ve been a fairy tale.

However, it wasn’t to be – following Spain’s surprise round of 16 elimination at the hands of the tournament hosts; and following the heartbreak of returning empty handed, Iniesta has called time on his career at international level.

?”Now is the time to step aside,” revealed Iniesta on Twitter. “It’s not an easy decision, on the contrary, I’ve been thinking about a lot during the past months. The illusion and will to continue are total but I’ve always said I will do what’s best for the national team. 

“The future is thrilling, with a great group of unbelievable players that from now on will have me as an unconditional supporter. I don’t have any doubt that what will come will be wonderful with any success. The quality group is amazing.”

The midfielder then goes on to give thanks to those that helped him during his time with La Roja, giving special mention to his family for their support.

“I would like to thank all the Spanish Federation for the support and treatment that has been given to me during these past 19 years.

“I have been lucky to have great managers,” he continues. “Luis (Aragones), Vicente (del Bosque), Julen (Lopetegui), Fernando (Hierro) and also Juan Santiesteban, Inaki Saez, Ufarte, Ginez.

“To all of you, fans, thank you, thank you so much for your support, trust and affection.

Spain v Russia: Round of 16 - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

“At last, I would like to thank especially my family; thank you for your unconditional support and for always being by my side.

“We pursued a dream and we achieved it.”


Chelsea Demand €80m for Wantaway Winger Willian Amid Reports of Barcelona Interest

Chelsea have slapped an €80m price tag on Barcelona target Willian this summer. The player is keen to leave the club, and Barcelona are contemplating paying the price, but are aware that it’s a lot of money for a player soon enter his 30s.

Willian has spent all summer being linked away from Stamford Bridge. Initially, it was the longing for a reunion with former boss Jose Mourinho that tempted the Brazilian, but now it seems he wants to reach the very top of his career hopes by moving to Barcelona.


With 13 goals and 12 assists last season, the 29-year-old is certainly a strong presence in attack, and with blistering pace, Willian has the ability to wreak havoc on defences with ease. Barcelona are aware of this, and have been preparing a move for some time.

That is, according to Mundo Deportivo, who write that La Blaugrana were made aware of Willian’s desire to join the club back in January when Philippe Coutinho moved to Camp Nou. the two players share the same agent, and initial enquiries were made back then.

However, Chelsea refuse to let him go on the cheap, and will force any side to stump up €80m for their Brazilian wide man.

Of course, Barcelona realise that this is a large sum of money, but they are keen on Willian, knowing full well that his talent would be worth it.

Sky Sports reported on Tuesday that talks are continuing, while MD go on to claim that they would consider selling Paulinho in order to sign the winger. Barca believe they could easily get €50m for the central midfielder, which would contribute greatly to Willian’s acquisition.


Kylian Mbappé’s Announces Himself on the World Stage as Cristiano Ronaldo & Lionel Messi Bow Out

?At one end of the pitch stood an isolated figure, a diminutive man but a giant in the world of football, surrounded by inferiority and mediocrity as his Argentinean colleagues seemingly gave up on him and their country. 

He looked cut adrift from reality as he witnessed what was perhaps his last chance at international glory slip away from his clutches, and with that, the chance to be painted with the same brush of which the great Pele and Diego Maradona are so often artistically stroked with. 

But it was not all down to the lack of cohesion within the Argentina camp. At the opposite end of where the desperate figure of Lionel Messi stood, a player who was just eight years of age when Messi set El Clásico alight with a hattrick at 19-years-old was running amok: Kylian Mbappe. 

Mbappe, coincidentally 19-years-old himself, took just 11 minutes to make his first significance indent in the round of 16 tie between France and Argentina. Having picked up a loose ball in his own third of the pitch, Paris Saint-Germain’s boy wonder ate up all of 77 yards, breezing past what seemed like the entirety of La Albiceleste’s team. 

Mbappe hit speeds of 38km/h at the heights of his electric run to win Les Bleus’ penalty for their opening goal, allegedly beating the average speed of Usain Bolt in an 100m race. Stylistically, Mbappe appears to be what one would assume to be born if Thierry Henry and Ronaldo were somehow biologically able to reproduce, but that is unfair; Kylian Mbappe will make his name, and perhaps make it better than the aforementioned. R9? CR7? It may be time to move over.

The run in question alone would’ve been enough to get this post-pubescent French prodigy’s name on the lips of the world, so if I were to say that it was arguably the lesser of his involvements, would you believe me? 

Albeit after a rare quiet spell in the match, Mbappe rose again when his country really needed him. Where the 27-year-old Antoine Griezmann and the 31-year-old Olivier Giroud were also spearheading the French attack, it was the teenager who bagged a decisive double with the scores at two apiece.  

The first of his brace showed a reading of the game that should have defied his years, but came to the surprise of absolutely no one. Four white and blue shirts surrounded him as a rebound fell to him on the penalty spot, where he would get just one or two touches before being swarmed. They would have to be perfect, precise and seamless, or he would be dispossessed

In a flash one touch to his right moved the Argentine wall with ease, before a left footed strike found the back of the net. This was a strikingly notable incident of a bright player foreseeing a seemingly unfathomable situation, and executing the actions to put him into it. 

His second was emphatic, almost as if he could do it in his sleep. A well built team move saw Mbappe one on one with Franco Armani, and all he needed was a touch. One clean strike gave France a two goal cushion over their opponents, and all but put them into the quarter finals. 

There were just three minutes between each of the teenager’s goals; he had shown a killer instinct, almost as if, for the period between his 11th minute run and his 64th minute strike, he had merely been taking pity on Argentina before deciding enough was enough. 

All of this took place with a five-time Ballon d’Or winner merely watching on. France’s progression at the expense of Argentina felt like it held more significance than a mere process of one team knocking out the other. It appeared to be the metaphorical passing of the torch from Messi to Mbappe.

Just a few miles from where this supposed power shift took place inside the Kazan Arena, Cristiano Ronaldo was also sent packing at the hands of Uruguay in Sochi. Symbolically, as the two modern greats of the game packed their suitcases and returned home, Mbappe stood aloft, victorious.

If success doesn’t greet him in Russia on July 15th this time round, Mbappe will be 23 in Qatar in 2022. He will be better than his already humongous ability suggests, and he will get another chance. And another. And another. 

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In stark contrast, Messi will be 35 when Qatar host the World Cup in four years time. Ronaldo will be 37. You get the sense that their time is coming to a close, but in Mbappe’s case, he is only just getting started in the purest sense of the phrase. 


Barcelona Wonderkid Robert Navarro Officially Joins Ligue 1 Side AS Monaco for Undisclosed Fee

Former Ligue 1 champions AS Monaco have officially announced the signing of 16-year-old Barcelona midfielder Robert Navarro.

The La Masia prospect becomes the latest teenager to be snapped up by the French club’s impressive scouting system, and Navarro will join Monaco’s Under-19 side to continue his development.

The Spain Under-16 international was deemed to be one of the brightest prospects in Barcelona’s infamous academy. It had been claimed that Navarro was attracting interest from both Arsenal and Manchester City before the transfer window opened.

But the youngster has opted to join AS Monaco rather than move to the Premier League, becoming the fourth 16-year-old to move to the Stade Louis II this summer.

AS Monaco is a great club that relies heavily on its training and gives young people the chance to express themselves at the highest level,” Navarro said upon signing, quoted by BarcaTimes

“My goal is to work hard to move forward and take new steps.”

Monaco have already snapped up Tiago Ribeiro [Porto], Eliot Matazo [Anderlecht] and most notably Willem Geubbels [Lyon], the latter costing Monaco a hefty £18m.


The club have also signed Wilson Isidor and Sofiane Diop from domestic rivals Stade Rennais, with their attention now expected to turn to signing Jonathan Panzo and Callum Hudson-Odoi from Chelsea.


Barcelona Launch Brand New 2018/19 Nike Away Kit in Return to Traditional Yellow

?Barcelona have launched their brand new 2018/19 Nike away kit, with a return to the traditional yellow that has so often been worn the club over the years.

Finished with blue and trim, as well the Senyera flag on the back of the neck, the shirt will be worn with yellow shorts and yellow socks.

The club explains that it is specifically designed as tribute to the away kit worn during the 2005/06 season when Barça won La Liga and the Champions League, only their second ever European crown.

Barça also had a yellow away kit during the 2008/09 season when they became the first Spanish club to win La Liga, Copa del Rey and European Cup/Champions League honours in the same season.

The club’s pre-season programme begins in less than a month, with an ‘International Champions Cup’ clash against Tottenham the first friendly of the summer on 28th July in California.

That is followed by two further games in the United States in the week that follows, before returning to Catalonia for the annual Joan Gamper Trophy at Camp Nou. Argentina giants Boca Juniors have been chosen as the opponents for this year’s game.

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La Liga will begin later in the month as Ernesto Valverde’s team look to retain their title.