Bayern Munich Race Ahead of Arsenal in Race to Sign Prolific Lille Striker Nicolas Pepe

?Bayern Munich appear to be close to securing the signing of Lille striker Nicolas Pepe, according to recent reports.

Pepe has been in sublime form for Lille so far this season, registering 18 goals and 11 assists in all competitions and, as a result, has become a top transfer target for a host of sides across Europe. 


It was reported that ?Bayern Munich had ?’opened talks’ with Lille last week and now, according to ?Sport, it appears that the Bavarians are drawing closer to confirming the signing.

Bayern delegate Laurent Busser has been watching Pepe live over the past few months but, as Lille look set to qualify for the Champions League, his transfer value is only likely to increase over the coming months – which could pose an issue for Bayern.

As a result, Sport claim that Bayern are looking to secure a deal as soon as possible to prevent Lille from continually raising the Ivorian’s transfer value and because the likes of ?Barcelona and Arsenal are also monitoring his progress.


beIN Sports journalist ?Bel-Abbès Bouaissi has also claimed that Bayern have already submitted a huge transfer offer for Pepe in the region of 80m, adding that adidas also have a hand in the transaction.

Speaking about his future whilst on international duty with the Ivory Coast, Pepe has insisted that he is unsure of what the immediate future holds and that he is currently focused on finishing the season strongly with Lille.

“My representatives take care of my future, I am focused on Lille for the rest of the season,” Pepe told Canal, per Football Espana.

“My future league? I do not have a preference.”


Why Asshole Griezmann Should Be the First Name on Every European Giant’s Summer Transfer Wishlist

?Antoine Griezmann, then. Player of the Tournament at Euro 2016, third best player at the 2018 World Cup, Player of the Year in La Liga for 2016, third in the Ballon d’Or voting twice in the last three years. World Cup winner. Europa League winner. UEFA Super Cup winner. 

It’s been a handy few years for the Frenchman. He moved from Real Sociedad almost five years ago, and has improved season on season since then. In that time, he’s been more or less the only attacking player to flourish in Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid setup, scoring at least 15 league goals (and 25 goals in all competitions) every single season since his arrival.

That would be great consistency for a leading striker. He isn’t that. Griezmann routinely plays as a second striker, drifting between midfield and attack to find his own gaps. At the start of his Atleti career, that role bled into some selfishness, the need to do the job all alone. No other ?Atletico Madrid player has hit 15 league goals or 25 overall goals once since he arrived, and some of the blame fell on the Frenchman for that. 

It’s a lot harder to place that blame on him now that he’s led the team in assists for the last three seasons. It’s even harder to see that when you actually watch him play – charging around the pitch, tracking back, starting attacks in his own half and sacrificing himself for the team in a way that true superstar forwards rarely do. 

He’s not just the perfect player for Simeone’s Atleti now, he’s almost the perfect player full stop. If it wasn’t for Lionel Messi being ?Lionel Messi, he’d be the premiere player in La Liga and it wouldn’t be close. 

He’s also kind of an asshole. 

For all that he’s selfless with his work rate on the pitch, Griezmann has managed to create more contract drama around himself in the last 12 months than Messi and Ronaldo combined – and one of those two actually moved. He put out vague tweets, he filmed an entire documentary to announce that he was…staying at Atleti this last summer. 

Now he’s considering a move. Again. 

Thing is, despite being a World Cup winner and European championship semi-finalist, Griezmann turns 28 on Thursday and the only league title he’s won was in the Segunda Division. He’s been the best player for the world’s best team in their last two tournaments, but he’s never won the Champions League. He’s taken Atletico Madrid as far as he can, but they just won’t allow themselves to be carried over the hump. 

He lost some good will from Atleti fans with his antics in the summer, almost holding the club hostage and getting a massive new contract in the bargain. That contract has a release clause which will drop to €120m in the summer and, for a player of his quality, any club who can remotely afford that will be looking very hard at making an offer – except ?Barcelona, who got burned by his rejection last summer.

Agitating for a move less than a year later is an asshole move. If Angel Correa pulled this, or ?Thomas Lemar, the answer would be simple. Boot in the backside, out the door, wave goodbye. 

That’s not an option when it comes to Griezmann. Jan Oblak, Diego Godin (who might be leaving this summer) and Jose Gimenez are the solid base of the team, Rodri, Saul and Koke all are brilliant supplementary pieces, but Griezmann is the crucial, beating heart. Atleti don’t work without him. 

It doesn’t matter if Antoine Griezmann is an asshole, because he’s brilliant. If the highest bid wins, pray to god it’s your club who makes it. 


Barcelona Confirm Length of Luis Suarez’s Lay-Off Following Injury Against Real Betis

?FC Barcelona have revealed that striker Luis Suarez is set for up to 15 days on the sidelines following the ankle injury he sustained in the 4-1 victory over Real Betis on Sunday night. 

Suarez notched both a goal and an assist in the impressive win at the Benito Villamarin Stadium, before he was forced off in the 90th minute with the knock.

And, as revealed on the club’s official website, he is now set to miss the upcoming international break after a medical examination revealed a sprain to his right ankle.

In a statement, the club said: “Tests carried out on Monday morning have confirmed that first team player ?Luis Suárez has a sprained right ankle. He will be out for 10-15 days and now undertake his recovery with the FC Barcelona medical team, having been withdrawn from the Uruguayan national team squad.

“Suárez was taken off late on in the 1-4 win against Real Betis at the Benito Villamarín, having scored his side’s third goal and provided an assist for ?Leo Messi, and was replaced by Carles Aleñá.

Luis Suarez,Lionel Messi

“His goal was his 18th in ?La Liga this season, and he is the second top scorer in La Liga behind only Messi (29). It also took him level with Diego Forlán as the Uruguayan with the most goals in the division of all time, with 128.”

Barcelona’s statement has allayed early fears that the striker ?could miss the Champions League quarter final first leg with Manchester United on 10 April.

Following the comprehensive win at Betis, La Blaugrana now sit 10 points clear at the top of the table, after chasers Atletico Madrid stumbled to a 2-0 loss to Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.


Lionel Messi Admits Real Betis Fans Applauding Him for Hat-trick Goal Is a Career First

?Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi has won trophy after trophy and set records galore during his illustrious career, but the Argentine icon managed a first this week after his hat-trick helped the Catalans hammer Real Betis to go 10 points clear at the top of La Liga.

Messi was applauded by Betis fans inside Estadio Benito Villamarín when he scored his hat-trick goal to make it 4-1, something the Barça captain said had never previously happened to him.

Real Betis Balompie v FC Barcelona - La Liga

Messi’s delightful chipped finish saw Betis supporters put football’s traditional automatic dislike of opposing players to one side and applaud the genius in front of them.

“I don’t remember being applauded by rival fans for a goal before,” ?he said afterwards.

The hat-trick was Messi’s fourth of this campaign and 33rd of his career to date.

The goals were his 37th, 38th and 39th of the season in all competitions, while his 21 assists means the five-time Ballon d’Or winner has already directly contributed to 60 goals in 2018/19.

Defeat for Atletico Madrid at the hands of mid-table Athletic Bilbao on Saturday also meant that Barça’s Messi-inspired win on Sunday sent the reigning champions 10 points clear at the top of the table and virtually certain to retain their title.

Another Spanish crown this season would be the 10th of Messi’s career, while Barça are also on course to win a fifth successive Copa del Rey and have a strong chance of going all the way in the Champions League for the first time since 2015.


Twitter Reacts to Yet Another Lionel Messi Masterclass as Barcelona Dispatch Real Betis 4-1

Lionel Messi was in typically inspired form ?for Barcelona on Sunday evening, scoring a majestic hat-trick as La Blaugrana comfortably dispatched Real Betis 4-1.

The diminutive Argentinean rarely surprises anymore but, even by his ridiculously lofty standards, he played an absolute blinder and is no doubt going to be the source of Betis defenders’ nightmares for weeks to come.

Real Betis Balompie v FC Barcelona - La Liga

His first strike of the night was a gorgeous free-kick from long range that sailed into the top right hand corner, his second a cool finish after a majestic back heel assist from Luis Suarez and his third an utterly outrageous chip from the left hand corner of the 18-yard-box.

Social media was understandably in a frenzy after the match, lauding ?Messi with an abundance of praise.


The hat-trick was the 51st of Messi’s career and, judging by the quality of all three goals, potentially one of his most impressive.

Plenty on Twitter also pointed out that Betis supporters gave the ?Barcelona talisman a standing ovation at the end of the match, highlighting just how impressive he was on the night.

The win was also significant for Messi, as it meant that he had surpassed the record set by Barcelona legend Xavi to become the player with the most wins in the club’s history.

And finally, whilst he was doing his very best to prove that he isn’t human, Messi did show that he isn’t always perfect when he struck an easy looking chance against the post from just six-yards out. There may be hope for the rest of La Liga just yet.