Martin Braithwaite

Barcelona recap
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Messi, Barcelona back with a bang

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It was a big day for Catalonia, as Barcelona took its next step toward another La Liga title and Espanyol crept closer to safety.

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Barca opened up a five-point lead on Real Madrid with a win at Mallorca before the second-place side tangles with Eibar on Sunday.

Mallorca 0-4 Barcelona

Lionel Messi scored and assisted two others while Jordi Alba had a goal and an assist as Barcelona cruised past Mallorca at the Son Moix.

Barca moves onto 61 points, while Mallorca’s 25 remain a point back of safety.

It didn’t take long for Barca to get going, with Alba spotting Arturo Vidal for a second-minute opener.

Mallorca manufactured some shots, but Barcelona expanded its lead to 2-0 when Messi headed a loose ball to Martin Braithwaite before halftime.

The assists were Messi’s 17th and 18th, the goal his 25th in 32 matches across all competitions.

Celta Vigo 0-1 Villarreal

Longtime Villarreal midfielder Manu Trigueros scored a somewhat rare goal in second half stoppage to move Villarreal into eighth place, four points out of the top six.

Trigueros’ 24th career goal came in his 316th appearance for El Submarino Amarillo.

Celta remains just one point above the bottom three and three points clear of 20th place in a shocking season. The club’s been in La Liga since 2013 and finished top half in three-straight seasons between 2013-14 and 2015-16.

Espanyol 2-0 Alaves

Fernando Pacheco’s 19th-minute handball saw him sent off for the visitors, and Espanyol scored in first half stoppage and just after the break to get a huge three points.

Espanyol remains 20th with 23 points but is just three points from safety. They needed the win with a tough run of fixtures ahead to close out the season.

Alaves has 32 points, seven points clear of the bottom three with 10 matches to play.

Leganes 1-2 Real Valladolid

Goals from Enes Unal and Ruben Alcaraz early in each half moved Valladolid seven points from the bottom three.

Oscar Rodriguez struck late to give the hosts some hope, but it wasn’t met by another goal and Leganes remains 19th.

Barcelona sign Martin Braithwaite

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BARCELONA, Spain — Barcelona says it has signed Denmark forward Martin Braithwaite to help fill its injury-depleted attack.

Barcelona said on Thursday it agreed to pay the 18 million euros ($19.4 million) buyout clause in Braithwaite’s contract with Spanish league rival Leganes.

Barcelona was granted permission to sign a Spanish league player after it was left without Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele for long periods due to injuries to both attacking players.

Braithwaite will sign for the rest of this season plus four more, according the club.

He will not be eligible to play in the Champions League this season, just la Liga.

The 28-year-old Braithwaite has played for the last year at Leganes, where he arrived in mid-season of 2018-19 and helped the modest club avoid relegation.

He has eight goals in 27 appearances for Leganes this season.

His prior clubs included Middlesbrough, Girondins, and Toulouse. He played in the 2018 World Cup for Denmark.

Barcelona highlighted his ability to play “on both sides of the attack, his work ethic and commitment” and added he is a “headache for rivals.”

Braithwaite to Barcelona imminent, could debut Saturday

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Barcelona is taking the controversial step of signing Leganes striker Martin Braithwaite outside the January transfer window, reportedly set to trigger his $19.4 million release clause. According to a report by ESPN, Braithwaite has already agreed to terms and will join the club immediately, possibly soon enough to make his debut on Saturday against Eibar.

The Catalan club was given an exception by La Liga after Ousmane Dembele was ruled out for the season, leaving the squad with just three healthy first-team forwards in Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann, and 17-year-old Ansu Fati. The injury to Dembele, which follows a long-term injury spell for Luis Suarez, led La Liga to allow Barcelona 15 days to sign a forward outside the window, provided it was either a free agent or a player already registered in the Spanish top flight.

Reports from all over Europe state that Barcelona attempted to negotiate with Leganes, but they held out for Braithwaite’s full release clause and Barcelona had little choice but to relent. The ESPN report states that Barcelona had come to an agreement with Getafe for Angel Rodriguez but Barcelona manager Quique Setien stepped in with a preference for Braithwaite due to his positional flexibility.

The controversial part of the situation is that Barcelona somewhat put itself in this spot by offloading forwards Abel Ruiz and Carles Perez in the January window without replacing them, and now have been saddled with an injury crisis. Many are upset that a big club like Barcelona is being bailed out by La Liga while Leganes suffers the loss of its leading scorer having already seen  Youssef En-Nesyri depart in the January window. Guillem Ballague reports that Leganes will appeal to La Liga for its own exception to sign an emergency player but as the rules stand, they cannot add a replacement for Braithwaite. The league office can authorize exceptions on a case-by-case basis, which they did for Barcelona, although policy has been to grant exceptions for long-term injuries.

The 28-year-old has scored eight goals across all competitions this season while Leganes has struggled at the bottom of the table all year long. They currently sit 19th in the La Liga table, two points clear of safety.

Report: Braithwaite to Barcelona

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Martin Brathwaite is on the verge of signing for Barcelona in an emergency deal sanctioned by La Liga.

Over the last few weeks the Catalan giants have lost both Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele to what are essentially season-ending injuries and they asked Spain’s top-flight for special dispensation to sign a new striker.

28-year-old Braithwaite is their emergency man.

The former Middlesbrough striker currently plays in La Liga for struggling Leganes but the Danish international has a release clause of $21.6 million in his contract and Barca have reportedly triggered.

Multiple reports state that Braithwate will travel to Barcelona on Tuesday to complete the shock move with his agent already in talks to seal the deal.

Why Braithwaite? Barcelona probably only got the ruling from La Liga to sign an ’emergency striker’ if he wasn’t a superstar who would cost $150 million. Also, La Liga rules state the emergency signing has to already be registered in Spain or a free agent.

We are outside of the transfer window and this move is incredibly controversial as emergency signings are usually only made available outside of the transfer window if it involves a goalkeeper.

This is a head scratcher.

Have Barca not got enough attacking midfielders to play one of them in attack? Are there really no players from Barcelona B who can be promoted to the first team?

Barcelona’s La Liga rivals will not be happy about this. Braithwaite is not able to be registered for the Champions League but he could have a big impact in the tight title race in Spain as Quique Setien’s team currently sit in second place, one point behind leaders Real Madrid.

Braithwaite has hardly been prolific during his time at Leganes (eight goal in 20 games), but that is a much better record compared to when he played for Middlesbrough in the Championship nine goal in 40 games). Setien and Barca’s recruitment team have obviously seen that he can help out the team to hold up the ball and give them a Plan B in games.

If this move goes through you just know Braithwaite is going to score the goal which wins Barcelona the La Liga title. You just know that is going to happen.