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Barca wins Catalan Super Cup as ex-Arsenal teen debuts

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Barcelona needed penalty kicks to claim the Catalan Super Cup back from Espanyol after two years.

After 90 scoreless minutes, Les Blaugranas converted their first four penalty kicks and their rivals missed two en route to the 4-2 victory at the Camp d’Esports in Lleida.

[ MORE: Altidore, Osorio star in Champions League comeback ]

There was plenty of Barca B in the lineup, though Aleix Vidal, Ousmane Dembele, Jesper Cillessen, Yerry Mina, Lucas Digne, Denis Suarez, and Paco Alcacer started the match.

Along the way, a former Arsenal player made a mark for England in the famous stripes shirt of Barca. Marcus McGuane, 19, turned down a contract offer from the Gunners to move to Catalonia in January.

In doing so, he became the first player in decades to appear for Barca. From FCBarcelona.com:

“A lot of people told me when I signed that Gary Lineker was the last English person to play for FC Barcelona” he said. “So to know that I’m next, that’s some achievement.”

“I need to carry on pushing on with the B team and get as many games as possible. And if get any opportunities to go over to the first team, I’ve just got to show the boss what I can do.”

McGuane had made just two Europa League appearances for Arsenal when he made his switch to Barca.

Dembele returns for Barcelona in 1-1 draw at Celta in Copa

AP Photo/Lalo R. Villar
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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Ousmane Dembele made his return from a long injury layoff as a second-half substitute in Barcelona’s 1-1 draw at Celta Vigo in the Copa del Rey on Thursday.

The 20-year-old France forward ruptured a thigh tendon in his left leg on Sept. 16 in his third appearance with the team after his transfer set a record for the Spanish club.

His move from Borussia Dortmund in the summer could potentially cost nearly 150 million euros ($180 million) as Barcelona seeks to fill the void in its attack left by Neymar after he forced his exit to Paris Saint-Germain.

[ MORE: Grading every PL club’s festive season ]

Dembele went on in the 72nd minute for reserve team striker Jose Arnaiz, who opened the scoring. Dembele took over as Barcelona’s center forward, but offered little more than a shot that drew a save from goalkeeper Sergio Alvarez in the 78th.

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde fielded a starting 11 with few regular starters, allowing Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Andres Iniesta to have extra rest, tacked onto the end of the short winter break.

Arnaiz struck for Barcelona in the 15th minute when he drilled in a low cross from Andre Gomes, who started the counterattack by recovering possession. It was the 22-year-old Arnaiz’s third goal in three cup matches this season for Barcelona.

Celta forward Pione Sisto leveled in the 31st after a long team buildup that appeared to have finished in a shot by Iago Aspas that hit the post. But the ball ricocheted off the woodwork and the leg of goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen before falling to Sisto, who fired it over the goalkeeper from a tight angle.

Denis Suarez missed a great chance for Barcelona in the 58th when Nelson Semedo found him arriving all alone at the far post, and Sergio Busquets hit the crossbar with a shot from distance moments later.

Barcelona’s unbeaten streak reached 26 straight matches.

Celta also held Barcelona to a 2-2 draw at Camp Nou in the Spanish league last month.

Messi scores four (4) as Barcelona hammers Eibar (video)

AP Photo/Manu Fernandez
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Lionel Messi scored four times as Barcelona belted Eibar 6-1 at the Camp Nou on Tuesday.

The 30-year-old now has 522 goals for Barca, including nine in five league matches this season. That includes two hat tricks.

[ MORE: Klopp rages at defending ]

Paulinho and Denis Suarez also scored for Barca, which is yet to lose a point in La Liga play.

Messi scored a penalty to start the scoring, then started a combination play before scooting into the 18 to score low and left.

Watch the movement from the Argentine magician.

Messi added his second when he drew the defenders and keeper to play him straight-on, then used the outside of his boot to flick a deft finish home.

He’d later dash to the doorstep to complete the 6-1 scoreline.

And how often do we see this? Messi starting and finishing a combination. When you’re an elite player who also thirsts for goals every minute on the pitch, you’ll score a few.

Barca to offer Liverpool $176M for Coutinho

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Barcelona is insane.

Desperate following a rough two-legged loss to Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup, the Blaugranas are reportedly ready to offer $176 million to Liverpool for Philippe Coutinho.

Read it again: $176 million for Philippe Coutinho. It’s about $126 million with $12 million more when Barca clinches a UCL spot over the next four seasons (which they have done every year since finishing sixth in 2002-03).

[ MORE: EFL Cup Tues. wrap ]

Even in this transfer market, that’s nuts. Crazy to offer, and maybe even crazier not to accept.

That’s pretty much two-thirds of the Neymar money. Two-thirds (I keep repeating myself with this story)

It’s even a convenient out for Jurgen Klopp, who’s said Liverpool is not a selling club. Here, he can say with a straight face that the club can improve with this money by selling a player who has — and I recognize it’s not all about goals and assists — one double-digit goal season in his career and a career single-season high of seven PL assists (done thrice).

Almost anyone who’s had the audacity to say the Reds should accept the bid has often been shot down by the Anfield faithful online. “It’ll ruin our season” and “How do we replace him this late?” are the common cries.

To the first question: No, it won’t. To the second: Easy?

It’s not like-for-like, but nearly every player in the world is available for $176 million. It’s not like-for-like, but here’s a short list: Antoine Griezmann, Gareth Bale, Paulo Dybala, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Marco Reus… Shoot! Klopp could sign 2-3 of his favorite BVB alums.

With this fee, Coutinho would become the second-highest transfer fee of all-time, behind only Neymar. There are makeweights Barcelona could offer that would make the deal even more intriguing to the Reds: Arda Turan, Andre Gomes, Denis Suarez.

Look at it from a neutral’s eyes — which I know is hard from the number of times I’ve read @ Tweets that say, “The only people who would like this deal are fans of Chelsea or United!” — at some point, it becomes unreasonable to not take advantage of Barcelona’s desperation. Maybe Coutinho is worth the “fit” for Barca, but rejecting this fee is more illogical than the offer itself.

At the risk of inflaming every more Liverpool supporters, Ross Barkley is probably going to cost someone $35 million and he’s a year and a half younger (Coutinho is a superior player right now, but we’re talking about the market here).

And, lastly, at some point you’re telling your entire team room that you’re willing to turn down near record money — it would be the highest non-buyout clause transfer ever — to keep a player from his dream club.

Take the money. Use it. Move on.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Another Alexis link; Zlatan, the coach?

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Rumors linking Alexis Sanchez to the half-dozen clubs bigger than Arsenal won’t subside until the summer transfer window closes, which is to say, Thursday’s grandest transfer rumor links the Chilean with a move away from north London.

[ MORE: Wednesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Tuesday | Monday ]

With his current contract down to just 10 months, Manchester City are the latest club reportedly interested in snatching him away from the Gunners for a pittance of his true value. That’s not to say $77 million is anything to scoff at, but given the current climate of the transfer market, Sanchez would fetch something closer to $120 million with three or four years to run on his contract.

[ MORE: Diego Costa releases statement — “I must return to Atletico Madrid” ]


Zlatan Ibrahimovic is four months into rehabilitation from the career-threatening knee injury he suffered in April. With five or six months still to go, the big Swede is nearing the point of the process during which he’ll likely announce his next club.

If Manchester United have their way, the 35-year-old might just stick around Old Trafford a while longer. Here’s the catch: Jose Mourinho is reportedly considering offering Ibrahimovic a role on his coaching staff in the interim before he completes his rehab and gets the OK to return to action.

[ MORE: Chelsea plan to raid Spurs — Danny Rose for $64 million ]


14 days remain before the end of the summer transfer window, and Tottenham Hotspur are still yet to sign a single player. The $65 million received upon Kyle Walker‘s departure would burn a hole in the pocket of everyone not named Daniel Levy.

That said, Tottenham are still expected to sign someone before the window closes, and they could certainly do worse than Suarez from Barcelona — that’s Denis Suarez, of course, not Luis. The 23-year-old Spanish midfielder is reportedly close to completing a move to Napoli, but Spurs are said to be late entrants into the race and could easily hijack the deal.