For a long time now, rumors swirling about Lionel Messi’s influence on FC Barcelona’s decision making at all levels suggest the tiny Argentine star is not just running the show on the pitch at the Camp Nou.
This report is another example of his power at Barca.
Last year Barcelona were very interested to sign Sergio Aguero from Man City as Messi persuaded the Catalan club to try and sign up his good friend and strike partner for Argentina.
Sources close to 25-year-old Aguero say he misses Spain and believes his style would fit in superbly at Barcelona. It’s hard to argue with the latter point, as his tremendous predatory strike rate and sensational movement would surely see him finish off plenty of Barca’s beautifully flowing moves.
Messi and Aguero are a match made in heaven. They proved that at the 2008 Olympics as Argentina won the Gold medal and the duo tore it up. Messi’s mazy dribbles and Aguero’s sharp, quick runs behind defenses make it a nightmare for opponents to defend them. After an injury hit campaign in 2012-13, this season Aguero has been firing on all cylinders for City after scoring 14 goals in 13 games.
But will the Citizens really allow their best player to move on to a UEFA Champions League rival? I find it hard to believe.
City have won the Premier League — with Aguero grabbing that memorable last-gasp winner on the final day of the 2011-12 season to hand them the title — and are now hell-bent on lifting the UCL title with Manuel Pellegrini in charge. Aguero is their main threat and there’s no reason why City would ever contemplate getting rid of the pint-sized striker. The Abu Dhabi based owners of the club do not need money, so surely this is the end of this particularly rumors?
I doubt it.
With Messi’s influence over the hierarchy at Barcelona and the chance for the four-time World Player of the Year to link up with a player he admires and loves playing alongside, don’t be surprised to see FCB pull out all the stops to land Aguero. If Messi wants it to happen, Barca will try and appease their star man.
Yet he stopped short of endorsing the Cup’s long-term future, a tournament which his side won last season but is perhaps the major obstacle towards the Premier League joining other European leagues with winter breaks. From ManUtd.com:
“If the competition is an official competition then it is important for Manchester United and for me as a manager. If you ask me could the English football survive or even be better without this competition? Maybe, maybe we would be fresher for European competition for example. But we have this competition, we have to respect the sponsors, we have to respect the opponents and a lot of us are trying to do our best.”
Real Madrid did everything but score, and now find themselves denied a chance at unparalleled history and in a relatively deep early hole in La Liga’s table.
A stoppage time loss to visiting Real Betis ended the club’s 73-match run of matches with a goal, and it came on the day it could’ve passed Pele’s Santos for sole possession of the longest scoring streak in history.
Perhaps more important, Madrid now sits seven points back of first place Barcelona. Their eight points leave them sixth.
Real Madrid 0-1 Real Betis
The hosts looked so good, and so fluid… and provided any number of finishes which would’ve been goals on another day. Unfortunately for them, the only goal came from Paraguay’s Antonio Sanabria in the fourth minute of second half stoppage time.
That’s because Real Betis goalkeeper Antonio Adan was sensational, including a stunning stop on Gareth Bale‘s backheeled volley in the final quarter hour.
There are only a trio of all-Premier League ties in the bunch, including a high-profile London clash between Spurs and West Ham.
Chelsea will host Everton, while Manchester United heads to Wales for a date with Swansea City.
All-in-all, we could have quarterfinals without a single Cinderella story.
Full draw Tottenham Hotspur vs. West Ham United
Bristol City vs. Crystal Palace
Arsenal vs. Norwich City
Chelsea vs. Everton
Swansea City vs. Manchester United
Manchester City vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers
Bournemouth vs. Middlesbrough
Leicester City vs. Leeds United