Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano has come forward to announce that he too believes Cesc Fabregas will stay at Barcelona.
“I see him here training and he is happy,” Mascherano said.
“He grew up in Barcelona and feels the call of the shirt.”
Mascherano is not known to be one of world football’s most notable wordsmiths but we’ve got to hand it to him – ‘the call of the shirt’ comment is a priceless and underutilized descriptor.
El Ratón continued: “It is difficult when you grow up here to leave because Barcelona is a big team, a big city, really nice to live in and all his family is here. I think he is a really key player for us and I think the coach and the people who work here want to keep him.”
Mascherano’s wisdom falls nicely in line with the well-tread footsteps of teammates Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Alex Song and Andres Iniesta, all of whom have all come forward to say they believe Fabregas will stay at Barcelona.
So we can go ahead and expect similar comments to be issued from Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba, Victor Valdez and Dani Alves by the end of the week. Because that’s simply how Barcelona operates – they hunt in packs.
And right now, their focus is on sinking their teeth into the injured fawn that is Manchester United manager David Moyes – and shredding him like a referee who’s whistled a controversial decision.
The goal of the hunt is simple and well-calculated – prevent Moyes from submitting a third, potentially ginormous-sized bid that might just make Barcelona president Sandro Rosell re-think his stance on keeping Fabregas.
Will the pack succeed?
PRAGUE (AP) Czech champion Viktoria Plzen is close to signing Austrian midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz.
Plzen says Ivanschitz agreed terms for a contract lasting 1 + seasons and will sign it when the team returns from a training camp in Spain. Ivanschitz has already joined the squad at the Oliva Nova resort, the club says.
Ivanschitz helped the Seattle Sounders win their first MLS Cup in December.
[ NEW HOMES: Fonte | Berahino ]
No financial details were given.
The 33-year-old Ivanschitz also played for Rapid Vienna and Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, Mainz in the Bundesliga, Levante in Spain and Panathinaikos in Athens.
Ivanschitz played 69 games for Austria in 2003-14, scoring 12 goals.
Joel Matip is going to get to play for Liverpool during AFCON after all.
The center back had turned down the chance to represent Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations, and Liverpool was forced to apply to FIFA for a waiver.
[ PL PREVIEW: Swansea vs. Liverpool ]
Matip suffered an ankle injury in December, adding to his desire to stay at Anfield. He declared himself internationally retired and was one of six Cameroon players who refused call-ups for AFCON.
He last played for the Reds on Dec. 11, and can be selected by Jurgen Klopp against Swansea City on Saturday.
MANCHESTER, England (AP) Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney says he raised 1.2 million pounds ($1.5 million) from a friendly game against former club Everton last year.
That represents the profits, after operational costs, from August’s sellout match at Old Trafford and goes toward the Wayne Rooney Foundation’s target of raising 5 million pounds for children’s charities.
[ NEW HOMES: Fonte | Berahino ]
Rooney said: “I’d like to thank all the fans who came to the testimonial and made it such a special night. They’ve raised a huge amount of money for children who are disadvantaged and it will make a real difference to their lives.”
Rooney is one goal from breaking Manchester United’s scoring record, with the striker currently tied with Bobby Charlton on 249 goals.
Rooney joined United from Everton in 2004.
Robert Lewandowski picked up where he left off.
The Polish striker scored twice for Bayern Munich, once in stoppage time, as the Bavarians improved their Bundesliga lead to six points after toppling Freiburg 2-1 on Friday.
[ MORE: Bundesliga second half preview ]
And what a winner it was, Lewandowski taking a Douglas Costa cross with two juggling touches before hitting an offspeed bouncer inside the post.
It was the league’s first match following the winter/holiday break, giving Bayern a cushion before RB Leipzig takes the pitch against Eintracht Frankfurt in a Top Five tilt on Saturday.
Lewandowski moves closer to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the goal scoring chart. His 13th and 14th goals have him two back of Borussia Dortmund’s striker, as Lewandowski pursues a third Golden Boot in four seasons.
Full Weekend Schedule
Freiburg 1-2 Bayern Munich — Friday
Augsburg vs. Hoffenheim — Saturday
Schalke vs. Ingolstadt — Saturday
Darmstadt vs. Borussia Monchengladbach — Saturday
Werder Bremen vs. Borussia Dortmund — Saturday
Wolfsburg vs. Hamburger SV — Saturday
RB Leipzig vs. Eintracht Frankfurt — Saturday
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Hertha Berlin — Sunday
Mainz vs. Koln — Sunday