Man City Set to Challenge Barcelona in Hunt for Ajax Wonderkid Frenkie De Jong’s Signature

Pep Guardiola is ready to do battle with arch rivals Manchester United and Barcelona for the signature of highly rated Ajax ?wonderkid Frenkie De Jong in January, in order to bolster his midfield options.

According to reports in the ?Mirror, Manchester City tabled a £50m offer for the 21-year-old in the summer but it was rejected by Ajax – who are confident their star man in is staying put in Amsterdam.

UEFA Champions League'Ajax v AEK FC'

De Jong has been ever present for Ajax this season and has also caught the eye of Spanish champions ?Barcelona

With passing accuracy of almost 92% this season, De Jong would integrate well into a team where possession of the ball is key to the philosophy Pep Guardiola has implemented. 

Guardiola has identified that the defensive midfield position is a potential weak spot for the champions, as relying solely on the ageing ?Fernandinho as the only recognised defensive midfielder is not feasible. 


Questions have been asked of how long box-to-box midfielder Fernandinho, who represented his country Brazil at the World Cup, can continue to perform at such a high level week in week out at the age of 33.

?Bayern Munich’s Thiago Alcantara and Adrien Rabiot of Paris Saint-Germain are also on City’s radar, with Alcantara having played under Guardiola at Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

[embedded content]

A potential move for Alcantara in January could be on the cards with Bayern stating they were open for offers for the Spanish midfielder in the summer. 23-year-old Rabiot, an ex-Manchester City academy player, is out of contract in the summer and could potentially move to the Etihad on a free.


Barcelona Chief Hints at Ivan Rakitic Contract Renewal Next Season With PL Giants Interested

Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United are all reportedly monitoring Ivan Rakitic’s situation at Barcelona after the La Liga club’s president revealed they may look to renew the Croatian’s contract next season.

According to talkSPORT, Chelsea are among a host of clubs interested in the Croatian, with the two Manchester clubs also keeping an eye on the situation along with French giants Paris Saint-Germain.

UEFA Champions League'FC Barcelona v PSV'

It’s understood that Rakitic is looking for a considerable pay rise as well as an extension to his current contract which is due to run out in 2021. 

However, Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu has said that the Croatian will not be getting a new contract any time soon, leading to the interest in the player.

Bartomeu has explained his reasoning as being finance related, in an interview with Onda Cero as quoted by talkSPORT he said: “For this campaign, we will not be able to go through with the gesture that Rakitic is asking of us. Next season we can look at it in relation to our new revenue.”

FC Barcelona v PSV - UEFA Champions League Group B

The interest from some of Europe’s top clubs suggests that Barca would be making a big mistake by not agreeing a new contract with ?Rakitic, who starred for Croatia during the 2018 World Cup as they reached the final, ultimately losing to France.

Rakitic moved to the Catalan club from Sevilla in 2014 and has since become a mainstay in Barca’s midfield, something that isn’t to be sniffed at given the glut of talent the club have had in that area in recent times.


Picking the Best Potential Barcelona Lineup to Face Girona in La Liga on Sunday

Barcelona will take on Catalan rivals Girona at Camp Nou in Sunday evening’s La Liga clash. 

Having just come out of a successful first Champions League group game, comfortably seeing off Dutch side PSV Eindhoven 4-0, the Spanish giants may be fatigued by their busy schedule, which sees them play seven matches in three weeks.

With this in mind, Ernesto Valverde may choose to omit some big names in his starting eleven in order for them to get rest. 

Here’s a look at how they might line up.

3. Goalkeeper & Defenders

Marc-André ter Stegen (GK) – ?Ter Stegen has looked solid at the back and has done nothing to warrant re-evaluation.

Nelson Samedo (RB) – With Sergi Roberto featuring in the 4-0 drumming of PSV, having a fresh pair of legs at the back is probably the most sensible idea, especially against a side who look vulnerable on the wings.

Gerard Pique (CB) – This stalwart no-nonsense centre back will be needed against a side who, in sixth place, are no strangers to scoring.

Samuel Umtiti (CB) – Although he did get sent off against PSV, Umtiti is an experienced defender who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. Against a side with little to lose, this may prove invaluable.

Jordi Alba (LB) – With not many options to choose from at left back, Jordi Alba will likely feature again here.

2. Midfielders

Arthur Melo (CM) – Although he missed group training during the week, Arthur should be available to play on Sunday and could make his first start for the club after a series of successful cameos.

Sergio Busquets (CM) – Both strong in the centre of the field and defensively minded, Busquets is a proven player and his command of the midfield will be essential in securing a win.

Philippe Coutinho (CM) – Coutinho’s creativity in midfield will help to draw the opposition’s defence out of position. While other big names may be rested, Coutinho’s energy is an essential ingredient of Barcelona’s good form.

1. Forwards

Lionel Messi (RW) – Having put three past PSV, the Argentinian remains a vital part of the squad and will cause the opposition defence headaches.

Luis Suarez (ST) – Although the Uruguayan probably deserves a rest, Suarez will most likely start up front.

Ousmane Dembele (LW) – The winger will be a great asset against Girona, a side who seem vulnerable from the flanks.


Barcelona Make Plans to Watch Man Utd’s Paul Pogba in Every Game Ahead of Fresh Summer Assault

?Barcelona have made plans to watch Paul Pogba in every game for the remainder of the season as they make the first step in their quest to sign the Manchester United midfielder next summer, according to reports. 

The France international was subject to interest from the Spanish giants throughout the summer, after a constant stream of reports documented his alleged fractured relationship with United boss Jose Mourinho. 

BSC Young Boys v Manchester United - UEFA Champions League Group H

However, while ?Barcelona were unable to secure his signature in the summer, the ?Mirror have claimed that they remain eager to sign the midfielder, and are set to keep a close eye on him in every game for the remainder of the 2018/19 season. 

Barcelona’s hierarchy, which includes general manager Pep Segura and technical directors Eric Abidal and Ramon Planes, have been handed the responsibility of overseeing ?Pogba‘s progress ahead of tabling more than £100m to the Red Devils for his services. 

The Blaugrana were present as the World Cup winner netted two goals during ?United‘s 3-0 win over Young Boys in the Champions League in midweek, and plan to do the same for the rest of the campaign. 

The reigning La Liga champions remain of the belief that Pogba is keen to switch Old Trafford for Camp Nou next summer after his agent, Mino Raiola, made all the right noises – ensuring he is their primary target in the next summer window. 

[embedded content]

With ?a truce between the 25-year-old and Mourinho established, Pogba has gone on to start the campaign in impressive fashion. The World Cup winner has scored four goals in six games, a tally which has him on course for his most prolific return at United after only managing nine and six in his first two-years respectively.  


Spain International Admits Barcelona’s La Masia Academy Can Be ‘Scary’ for Young Footballers

Former Barcelona defender Marc Bartra has admitted that Barcelona’s famous La Masia youth academy can be a very scary place for young footballers looking to rise through the ranks.

La Masia is responsible for the emergence of some of the biggest names in world football, having housed players such as Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta. There’s no doubt that the standards are extremely high in the Barcelona academy, which has stood out as the model for youth development over the years. And, as Bartra has revealed, the setup could be quite daunting for kids looking to progress in the game.

Real Betis Balompie v Sevilla FC - La Liga

The 27-year-old, now playing his football for Real Betis, spent 14 years with Barca before his move to Borussia Dortmund two years ago. And he doesn’t seem to have enjoyed his time at La Masia the way many would have thought.

?“The scariest part is that you know that, even if [the coaches are] just a little unhappy with you, they’ll bring in someone else,” the Spaniard wrote on The Players’ Tribune. “This is the Barca academy – every kid in the world wants to play there.

“You’d see these talents come not just from the whole of Spain, but from Mexico, Israel, Brazil, Germany, wherever. And you’d think: If I don’t do well, next year they’ll be here, and I’ll be gone.

“Trust me, that’s pressure. Especially when you’re 10 years old. You don’t really have the maturity to deal with it. You’re living the life of a seasoned professional, yet you’re still a kid. And honestly, I don’t remember enjoying it much.”

Although he seemed to have been put under a lot of pressure during his time as an up-and-coming player, Bartra claims to have had enjoyable times during training, as well as when he was able to play with his brother, who was later released from the academy.

Real Betis Balompie v Sevilla FC - La Liga

“I loved it when we got to train with the ball, or when I could play with my brother,” he continued. “But on a day-to-day basis, having to train hard and study to get good grades, well, I found it very difficult.”