Liverpool and Manchester United Set to Renew Hostilities in Transfer Battle for Barcelona Midfielder

?Having only gone head to head on the pitch on Saturday, Liverpool and Manchester United already look to be preparing for their next battle, with this one set to take place in the transfer market.

Having run out ?2-1 winners when the pair met at Old Trafford earlier this weekend, United will hope to come out on top once more with the pair both reportedly interested in a move for Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic.

According to the ?Birmingham Mail, Jose Mourinho is looking for reinforcements in the centre of the park ahead of the retirement of Michael Carrick in the summer, with Paul Pogba, Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini all linked with moves away from Old Trafford.

Liverpool meanwhile could be looking for new partner for Naby Keita – who is set to join from German side Leipzig at the end of the season – with Emre Can having long been linked with a move to Italian champions Juventus.

One significant obstacle for both clubs to negotiate however, appears to be Lionel Messi. The Barcelona talisman is said to be hugely influential around the Camp Nou, and is reportedly keen to see Rakitic remain in Catalunya.

Croatian midfielder Rakitic has become an integral part of Barcelona’s midfield since joining from Sevilla in 2014, making 202 appearances and scoring 30 goals in his time with the club.


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Barcelona Midfielder Admits He’d ‘Open the Door’ to Allow Neymar to Return to Nou Camp

?Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakiti? has made a stunning claim over the future of his former teammate Neymar – claiming that he’d be willing to welcome back the Paris Saint-Germain man with open arms should he decide to return.

Speaking after his side’s comfortable 2-0 win over Malaga, via Marca, the Croatian midfielder weighed-in with his opinion on the future of the tenacious Brazilian, and claimed that he’d be more than happy to see him make a return to the Camp Nou. 

Rakiti? said: “He has not told me anything, but if it’s up to me, I would open the door right now.

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“Not only because of the relationship I have with him, but because of the type of player he is. I would always put Ney on my team.”

Neymar is currently back at home in his native Rio de Janeiro, where he recently had surgery to aid his broken foot. Despite impressing in his debut season with the Ligue 1 giants – scoring 19 goals in 20 league games – the 26-year-old is widely-believed to be regretting his world record smashing €222m move to Paris, with the skilful forward already missing life in Spain.

The former Santos prodigy will be desperate to return to first-team football as soon as possible, allowing the necessary time to regain his form ahead of the World Cup in Russia this summer. Brazil were humiliated in the 2014 competition, as Germany hammered them 7-1 in the semi-final.

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Meanwhile, have claimed that former-Barça boss ?Luis Enrique will demand that Chelsea sign the Catalan giants defender Samuel Umtiti, if he succeeds Antonio Conte as the Blues manager at the end of the season. 

After a fractious campaign at the helm of the Blues, the Italian manager is hotly-tipped to leave the club – with Enrique a possible replacement.


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Spanish Report Claims Luis Enrique Will Insist on Signing Barca Star if He Takes Over at Chelsea

?According to reports, if ?Chelsea are to recruit former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique, they will need to raid his former side for French defender Samuel Umtiti.

The Blues have struggled to make a meaningful title defence this season – largely due to the brilliance of Manchester City – leaving many calling for the dismissal of current boss Antonio Conte, with Enrique rumoured to be the favoured successor.

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However, reports in Spain are suggesting that Enrique has made a number of conditions to Chelsea chiefs if they are serious about getting him to take the reins at Stamford Bridge.

Spanish news outlet ?Don Balon has claimed that Enrique has insisted that Chelsea bring Barcelona centre back Umtiti to the club if he is to be Conte’s replacement, with the Chelsea board said to be ‘willing to do everything’ to acquire the Frenchman.

Barcelona v Atletico Madrid - La Liga

In the eyes of Enrique, Umtiti is seen as the natural replacement for controversial Blues defender David Luiz, who will be sold this summer after a falling out with Conte has significantly reduced his game time.

France international Umtiti is also claimed to have revealed the news of Chelsea’s interest to Barca teammate and former Manchester United star Gerard Pique.

To Pique’s shock, Umtiti seems to be entertaining the idea of switching Catalonia for London, after he supposedly informed the Spain international that he’d be willing to make the move.

It is also claimed that Umtiti has ruled out a move to Manchester United, with Red Devils boss Jose Mourinho said to be keen on the 24-year-old.

Coincidentally, Chelsea will next be in action on Wednesday where they’ll be travelling to the Nou Camp to face Barcelona in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League. 

It is currently advantage Barcelona, after a Lionel Messi away goal secured a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge two weeks ago, but Chelsea are no strangers to causing a Barcelona upset. 


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Malaga 0-2 Barcelona: Catalans Extend Unbeaten Run With Easy Win Against 10-Man Hosts

It was a simple evening for Barcelona, who are closing in on the La Liga title as they swept aside bottom-placed Malaga on Saturday evening.

First half goals from a Luis Suarez header and a silky Philippe Coutinho backheel brought the required goals for the visiting side as they walked through to another three points, with talisman Lionel Messi absent after the birth of his third child.

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The tone for proceedings was set early on, with the visitors displaying their strength and their unconquerable passing game on display from the whistle.

Suarez found himself close to the opener on 13 minutes when played in Paulinho, jinking and weaving from right to left to drill his shot into the stiff right hand of Roberto.

But the breakthrough followed closely behind when a pinpoint Jordi Alba cross was met by Suarez, a chance he didn’t spurn to give the visitors the lead.

Malaga v Barcelona - La Liga

The game continued vastly in favour of Barcelona with Coutinho nonchalantly flicking the ball past a caught out Roberto at his near post, after a simple pass in from Ousmane Dembele, giving the Catalans a deserved second.

Malaga midfielder Samu was given his marching orders by the referee shortly after the second goal for an out of control lunge into Alba’s ankle. The Spanish full-back, marked and shaken by the challenge, was ready to continue after some treatment.

The hosts’ best chance of the first half – of which there was few – fell to forward Youssef En-Nesyri, and after plenty of battling from Iturra to get a cross in the Morrocan striker somehow bounced his three-yard header wide of the target.

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Coutinho, relishing a free creative role with no Messi in the side, was close to his second of the night when some smart interchanges saw Paulinho lay-off to his compatriot but Roberto was equal to yet another dangerous effort.

Things could have been much worse for Jose Lopez’s side had Roberto not been the star in what was another miserable day for the side bottom of La Liga.

Ernesto Valderde’s team came out happy to control and impose themselves on a despairing Malaga side in the second half, with the visitors content to take their foot off the pedal somewhat.

Dembele, who was having an impressive game, stung the gloves of Roberto on a couple more occasions but the keeper was up to the task when called upon for the first 20 minutes of the second half.

Lopez’s team were sadly showing plenty of signs of a team severely lacking in confidence at such a crucial time of the season and an inability to take their chances proved costly.

Coutinho almost capped off a great evening with his second goal, another sublime interchange with Suarez almost brought the Brazilian in for the goal but he couldn’t quite gather the ball before Roberto had charged him down.

Malaga v Barcelona - La Liga

Champions-elect Barcelona had a casual outing in which they never had to work too hard for the result, particularly with Samu’s sending off, while Malaga look certainties for relegation.

The win leaves Valverde’s side 11 points clear of Atletico Madrid, who play Celta Vigo on Sunday.

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Ernesto Valverde Squashes Rumours Linking PSG’s Neymar With Move Back to Barcelona

?Ernesto Valverde has squashed recent rumours suggesting Neymar could return to Barcelona just one year on from leaving for Paris Saint-Germain.

The Brazilian swapped the Nou Camp for the Parc des Princes when he joined PSG in the summer for a world record transfer fee of £198m, and has settled into life in Paris well.

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He has scored 19 goals in 20 Ligue 1 appearances and also scored six goals in seven Champions League matches before his side were knocked out of the competition by Real Madrid.

His goals have helped the Parisians open up an 11-point gap at the top of Ligue 1 ahead of reigning French champions Monaco, however he is currently recovering after breaking a bone in his foot. 

Earlier this week, Spanish newspaper ?Mundo Deportivo claimed that after travelling to Brazil to receive treatment for his injury, Neymar reportedly contacted Barcelona about a potential way to engineer a move back to the Catalan giants. The report claimed the Brazilian had regrets about leaving the club and has been disappointed by the standard of opposition in Ligue 1.

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However speaking with the press (via the ?Chicago Tribune) prior to Barcelona’s game against Malaga, Valverde insisted the rumours were false and that he was unaware of where they originated from. He said: “It seems to me a fantasy and we do not know where it came from or where it will end.

“It is a fantasy and we are not going to speak about rumours when we know it would not end here.”

International Champions Cup 2017 - Juventus v FC Barcelona

Barcelona are still dealing with repercussions of the Neymar transfer after reportedly not paying a bonus Neymar was due to receive once it became apparent he was to move to Paris, and are not interested in re-signing the 26-year-old, according to these reports.

With Neymar set for a spell on the sidelines, his side will now be looking to wrap up the French league title as well as the Coupe de France and the Coupe de la Ligue – where they face Monaco in the final.


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