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Gerard Pique signs new deal at Barcelona

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With a new era about to be ushered in at the Nou Camp, there will be at least one familiar face sticking around.

Star center back Gerard Pique has signed a new contract to stay with Barcelona.

Pique, 27, put pen to paper on a new four-year deal as the Spanish international is a key cog in the Catalan clubs masterplan. He will be part of the Blaugrana for quite some time but the ball-playing center back hasn’t always been with the Spanish giants.

He left Barcelona’s academy as a teenager to sign for Manchester United but with first-team opportunities limited at Old Trafford, Pique returned to Barcelona in 2008 and has racked up 266 appearances whilst winning four La Liga titles, two Champions League crowns and countless other trophies as a defensive lynchpin. With Spain he has also won the 2010 World Cup and European Championships in 2012, so he is no stranger to success. His experience will be key in the upcoming rebuild.

With new manager Luis Enrique arriving this summer, many believe a huge overhaul will take place at Barca as they aim to get back to winning ways after not lifting a single trophy in the 2013-14 season under former boss Gerardo Martino.

Our friends over Soccerly have all the details about Pique’s new deal, as the defender can now concentrate on playing well for Spain at the World Cup this summer (and hanging out with his popstar wife Shakira) before jetting back to Barcelona to help his team climb back to the top of Spanish and European soccer next season.

Gerard Piqué, who put pen to paper on his new five-year contract this morning, claimed that Barcelona have everything it takes to rise back to the summit of world football.

“Barcelona have to be at the top, winning trophies and making our presence felt among the elite of European and world football. We have the team and the coach, so we have all the ingredients to get back where we belong”, the defender stated.

Piqué also threw his weight behind the appointment of Luis Enrique as the club’s new coach: “I’m really excited. He showed that he has very clear ideas in his press conference. He knows the club very well and I think he’ll have a big impact”.

Cisse arrested in sex tape investigation

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Former Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse is embroiled in a bizarre investigation into the extortion of a sex tape.

The 34-year-old French striker has been arrested by French police who have confirmed that are investigating attempts to bribe another international footballer.

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Unconfirmed reports from France claim that the individual in question is France and Lyon midfielder Mathieu Valbuena, a former teammate of Cisse at both Marseille and with the French national team.

According to Reuters news agency, Cisse was questioned because he was familiar with the people involved and in total four individuals were arrested as it is alleged they plotted to ask for money from Valbuena for the sex tape to not be released. It is unclear if the tape is of Valbeuna and his partner Fanny Lafon, or if other individuals are involved.

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Cisse won the UEFA Champions League with Liverpool and scored 24 goals in 79 games during his three-year stay at Anfield until 2007. He also had spells with Sunderland and Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League, while he is currently out of contract after being released by Ligue 1 side Bastia following nine goals in 41 appearances. Cisse is due to appear on the French version of “Dancing with the Stars” in the coming months.

Further reports from France say that Cisse is expected to be “exonerated” and that the existence of the video is “not proven” at this point.

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

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Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

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There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?