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It is normal for Barcelona to depend on Messi – Enrique

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Barcelona manager, Luis Enrique has said his team’s reliance on Lionel Messi is perfectly normal, when you have “the best player in the world”.

Messi has kept Barca’s title charge alive, with late winners against Leganes and Atletico Madrid in their last two fixtures.

The five-time World Player of the Year, has over a year left on his current deal, with talks ongoing over a new deal.

“It would be naive to think we wouldn’t depend on the best player in the world,” Enrique said on Tuesday.

“Hopefully we can depend on him for many years to come.”

Enrique also spoke about switching from Barca’s traditional possession-based game to a more direct style.

“The key to having possession is not just to have it for the sake of it, but to have possession as a means of reaching a goal, and the goal is winning games,” he added.

“If the opponent sits back and allows long passages of play in possession they don’t leave you spaces to find gaps.

“If they decide to press high and leave space then it doesn’t make sense too not take advantage of that and in two touches overcome the press to score a goal.”

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FC Barcelona Officially Launches Soccer Academy In Lagos.

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Officials of FC Barcelona have lunched FCBEscola Soccer Academy in Lagos state, Nigeria.

The academy officially opened in the presence of FC Barcelona Director, Pau Vilanova and the Project Director of the FCBEscola, Franc Carbó.

The school which has been active since September 2016, is expected to enroll boys and girls between the ages 6 and 18.

It is the first of its kind in Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa and would provide opportunities for potential footballers from all over the country as well as other parts of Africa, to receive first class training.

They would also receive training in English, Spanish, French and other Modern European languages, as well as General and Applied Mathematics, Humanities and Social Sciences, Creative, Technical and Vocational studies.

FCBEscola Lagos is modelled on FC Barcelona’s own youth system and students will be taught by the club’s coaches using its football methodology.

 

Source: Channels TV

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Wayne Rooney welcome back at Everton – Ronald Koeman

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Everton manager Ronald Koeman has opened the door for Wayne Rooney to return to Goodison Park.

Manchester United’s record goalscorer has been linked with a move back to his boyhood club, having struggled to hold down a regular place under Jose Mourinho.

Rooney’s agent was in China this month, seemingly to sound out interest in his client, but the 31-year-old player last week issued a statement insisting he was staying at Old Trafford.

However, his long-term future remains in doubt, and Koeman is ready to make a move in the summer to bring Rooney back to where it all began.

“I believe that Wayne Rooney is still playing at a high level,” the Dutchman told Sky Sports.

“I think he made a good choice to stay at Manchester United and in the Premier League because he has still two or three years in front of him to play on a high level.

“What will happen at the end of the season? I don’t know but in my opinion he is one of the players who can make Everton more stronger.

“It’s all about what the player likes, what Manchester United needs to do, and we are not involved in that project.

“But every player that we at Everton think can make the team stronger is welcome to Everton.”

Rooney progressed through the ranks in the Toffees’ academy, having joined at the age of nine, and his rise accelerated in his mid-teens as he moved from the youth side to become a first-team regular.

He made his debut aged 16 on the opening day of the 2002/03 campaign against Tottenham and six weeks later became Everton’s youngest scorer with two goals against Wrexham in the League Cup. He scored his first Premier League goal a fortnight later – a last-minute winner against Arsenal five days before his 17th birthday.

Everton were unable to hang on to Rooney when United came calling in the summer of 2004 but there is now a realistic prospect of him making the move back to Merseyside.

Koeman’s comments were backed up by director of football Steve Walsh, who said it would be remiss of the club not to be interested if Rooney was available.

“Wayne Rooney is one of the greatest players that has ever played the game in England and for us not to be interested would be wrong,” he said.

“He started his career here and if the opportunity arose that he could come back and it sat well with everyone it is something we would consider.

“He is a class apart, he sees things, and all the things that have been said about Wayne are true. He comes into that category of being one of England’s greatest ever players, so why wouldn’t we be interested?

“I think the whole thing would be euphoric. I think we could sell a lot of shirts, that’s for sure.

“But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Wayne is contracted to Manchester United and made a decision to continue to play for them.

“Let’s wait and see what happens in the future.”

While Everton are looking to the summer transfer window, there is more pressing business still to be done as they attempt to tie striker Romelu Lukaku to a new contract.

The Belgian’s agent Mino Raiola said in December that a deal was “99 per cent done” and on Monday claimed it was now “99.99999999 per cent done”, and Walsh is optimistic of it being completed.

“I think once you have success at a club, you have a feeling for it, and there is a real feeling that Everton is a club he is part and parcel of and I think he’d like to continue with that,” Walsh added.

“For him to sign his contract is that logical next step and we are all hopeful that is going to happen.”

Walsh believes with more new signings, the club can become contenders for Champions League qualification.

“The fact we have bought people like Morgan Schneiderlin sends out the message we want to get better and we will get better,” he said.

“We want to be successful, we want to get into the top four and you only do that over a period of time and, given that time, we are going to get there, there is no doubt.”

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INTERVIEW: Only few players in our generation spend foolishly – Onazi

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Ogenyi Onazi has enjoyed a steady career since his teenage days as a silver medal-winning member of the Golden Eaglets at the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

After winning the African Cup of Nations in 2013 and partaking in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Onazi says he would have joined Liverpool but for an injury sustained at the tournament.

The midfielder has since grown to become an integral part of the Super Eagles and will be relied upon to help Nigeria qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

Onazi believes that the Eagles, under the tutelage of Gernot Rohr, now have the “zeal” to excel and are “ready for all tournaments”

In an interview with TheCable on the Football Africa Arena (FAA) platform, the Trabzonspor FC of Turkey star talked about his career thus far, Gernot Rohr and the future of the Super Eagles.

How did it feel to miss two AFCON competitions back to back?

As at that time, we had lots of issues on ground that I don’t want to even remember but I am happy everything is clear now, we are focused.

Onazi in agony at the 2014 World Cup

Onazi in agony at the 2014 World Cup

How serious was your injury against France at the 2014 World Cup?

It was very serious. I was scared. It actually denied me the opportunity of going to the English league when Liverpool came for me.

What are the challenges stopping African teams from winning the FIFA World Cup?

Well, as we all know Africa always go to the World Cup with a lot of distractions which I can’t mention now. If the federations can solve all issues to let the players concentrate, I think we can make it.

Relationship with local and foreign coaches

For club and country, I have met lots of coaches and I have never had any problems with any, only one of the coaches I would say maybe he was having issues with me for no reason but I really enjoy and appreciate all of them.

On players wasting earnings and going broke after retirement

It is very few players in our generation that are spending foolishly, the others have learnt from others so I have no doubt they will invest well.

What’s your favourite position?

For me any position in the midfield I can play comfortably well but defensive is my favourite.

Onazi during the 2013 Orange Africa Cup of Nations final match between Nigeria and Burkina Faso

Will you join the China adventure?

I don’t think so because I have my football plans in Europe. Hopefully, much later.

Should Rohr invite players playing in China to Super Eagles?

For me, Chinese League is growing really fast and strong. A player who plays in China, I will invite him as far as he is having playing time and doing well the only problem is when he is invited and can’t meet up, then they can find other options.

Can Gernot Rohr qualify Nigeria for the 2018 World Cup?

Yes, since he has taken the job and he has shown he knows what he is doing and we are ready to support him to any length.

What principles does he instill in Super Eagles players?

He, first of all, makes us understand that we will not live by the past. That we need to forget about what we have achieved and what we have not. Now, we have to create another history and change the mindset of Nigerians. I have learned a lot from him tactically that is why I know he will take us places.

What’s your best ever game in a Super Eagles jersey?

Well, so many games I have played from day one are great games but since you asked for one I would say the game against Ivory Coast because I played against the best in the middle with Yaya Touré and the rest.

Low moments playing for Super Eagles

We have a lot of them; losing some very important games, not being able to qualify for some major tournaments.

How can one succeed in football?

It takes discipline, dedication, hard work and most especially, prayers.

source: thecables

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I love my life at Chelsea, says Victor Moses

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Super Eagles’ midfielder, Victor Moses, has revelled in a wingback role, with Coach Antonio Conte presenting him with an opportunity to flourish since he was recalled to Stamford Bridge.Moses confesses he relishing being a regular at Chelsea, claiming that he “always wanted to play for this big club”. Chelsea bought Moses from Wigan Athletic in 2012.

His signing was considered to be a way of bolstering the homegrown numbers at Stamford Bridge, although he did make 43 appearances in all competitions during his debut campaign.

Moses quickly slipped down the pecking order after that bright start, with loan spells taken in at Liverpool, Stoke City and West Ham. After three years away from west London, the 26-year-old has returned to prominence this term in a wingback role under Antonio Conte.He is considered to be one of this season’s biggest success stories, and Moses admits he is loving life back in favour at the Premier League leaders.

“I’ve always wanted to play for this big club, it’s one of the best clubs in the world at the moment and I’m enjoying every single minute,” he told Chelsea’s official website.

“I just want to keep on working hard and helping my team-mates out.” Moses has started every Premier League game for the Blues since October 1, helping them to open up a 10-point advantage at the top of the table.

He is, however, taking nothing for granted as Conte’s side chase down major silverware in their first season under the Italian tactician.
“We’re not looking at the table at the moment, we still have 12 matches to play and we just need to take each game as it comes,” added Moses. “We just want to stay grounded and win as many games as we can between now and the end of the season.

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Barcelona plot Isco capture in 2018

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Barcelona are hoping to poach Isco from Real Madrid in 2018 by attempting to convince him not to extend his contract in the Spanish capital.

The midfielder is currently negotiating an extension at the Bernabeu, even if he has yet to fully convince Zinedine Zidane.

And Goal understands that Barcelona are hoping to capitalise on uncertainty regarding his place as a starter by promising to make him the heir to Andres Iniesta in the heart of their midfield.

Luis Enrique is hoping to persuade the 24-year-old to follow in his footsteps, with the Barca boss leaving Madrid during his playing days to join Barcelona as a free agent in 1996.

The Catalans believe they have nothing to lose approaching Isco and would relish the opportunity to get one over on Madrid president Florentino Perez, who has made overtures to Neymar, Iniesta and even Luis Suarez while they ply their trade at Camp Nou.

Barcelona have indicated to the Spain international that they have always rated him highly and only the presence of stalwarts such as Xavi and Iniesta in their line-up previously prevented them making a formal approach. While revered by the Bernabeu faithful and having turned down opportunities from around Europe to leave in the past, Isco is aware that he faces limited playing time should he stay on at the club he joined from Malaga in 2013.

Barcelona are closely monitoring the situation and are aware of the possibility they might be able to nab him on a free transfer in 2018 by making early contact.
Read more…

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Man Utd 3-2 Soton: Zlatan wins EFL Cup for United

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The Saints had fought back from 2-0 down to level, but Ibrahimovic’s 87th-minute  contribution sealed a 3-2 win and the first silverware of his – and Jose Mourinho’s – Manchester United careers.

Wembley bore witness to a superb encounter as expectant United faced a Saints side looking to win just the second major trophy in their history, the first having come 41 years ago when the sides met in the FA Cup final.

Manolo Gabbiadini scored either side of half-time – his fourth and fifth goals in just three Southampton games – as Ibrahimovic and Jesse Lingard strikes were cancelled out.

Europa League and FA Cup glory remain further possibilities this term, but Mourinho will know his players need to up their game moving forwards.

After Gabbiadini had seen an opening goal wrongly ruled out for offside, under-performing United showed their ruthless edge as Ibrahimovic fired home a free-kick before Lingard scored on a third straight Wembley appearance.

But it appeared a gut-punch rather than a decisive killer-blow. Gabbiadini gave Southampton hope with a close-range goal in first-half stoppage time, before sending the success-starved fans wild with an outstanding leveller.

Oriol Romeu crashed a header off the post shortly after avoiding a second yellow card, but it was not to be for Southampton.

Ibrahimovic’s 26th goal of the season saw Mourinho become the first United manager to win a major trophy in his debut season, and earned the Portuguese a fourth League Cup triumph – a joint record with Brian Clough and Sir Alex Ferguson.

Few would have known United were the side making a record-equalling 49th trip to Wembley as Saints flew out the blocks.

Dusan Tadic and James Ward-Prowse proved a headache for United’s rattled backline, with Nathan Redmond ending a mazy run with an attempt that deflected wide for a corner.

That start should have brought with it a goal in the 11th minute. Southampton’s success-starved fans erupted as Gabbiadini turned home hard-working Cedric’s cross from the right. Inexplicably, though, the assistant raised his flag for offside, despite the Italian being clearly on and Ryan Bertrand not interfering with play.

Saints soon had further reason to feel aggrieved at Stuart Burt’s decision.

Romeu was booked for a lunge on Ander Herrera, giving Ibrahimovic a chance from 30 yards. It was an opportunity the in-form veteran took with aplomb, firing home a stunning free-kick and wheeling off towards his fans in celebration.

Saints’ wall and goalkeeper Fraser Forster will feel they should have done better with the 19th-minute strike, which Puel’s men busily went about cancelling out.

Ward-Prowse and Tadic forced the returning David de Gea into action from the edge of the box in quick succession.

United were not attacking with the same regularity, but unlike Saints made their threat count.

Marcos Rojo was allowed through to lay off to Lingard just inside the box, with Southampton’s lack of pressure giving the attacking midfielder time to calmly side-foot past Forster.

But it was not a fatal strike after Saints collected themselves. In first-time stoppage time, Ward-Prowse’s fine right-wing cross was met by a smart Gabbiadini touch, turning the ball past De Gea and turning to the assistant celebrating.

Michael Carrick replaced Juan Mata for a second period Southampton started brightly, with Redmond seeing an exquisite volley kept out by De Gea.

There was no let-up from Puel’s men. Steven Davis beat Anthony Martial to a header and Gabbiadini swivelled expertly, firing through a crowd into the bottom corner in front of the Saints fans.

It was a moment of utter joy for half of Wembley – and one Ibrahimovic could have soon rendered worthless, only for Forster to recover from his poor clearance to smother.

Herrera claimed compatriot Romeu should have received a second booking after being clattered, but the appeals ere ignored, with the defensive midfielder soon leaping above Paul Pogba to power a header off a post.

United attempted to make the most of that let-off. A superb challenge from Maya Yoshida prevented Lingard from getting a shot away, before the unmarked winger wasted a glorious 76th-minute chance.

Redmond saw an attempt deflect wide as Saints pushed for a winner, although substitute Marcus Rashford came close to grabbing one at the other end by forcing Forster into a near-post stop.

It was a frantic conclusion and, having blocked a Stephens corner at the other end, Ibrahimovic secured the win.

Unmarked from six yards, he powered home Herrera’s cross to secure a memorable win and send United fans wild.

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Manny Pacquiao to fight Khan April 23

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World Boxing Organization welterweight champion, Manny Pacquiao, will return to the ring on April 23, 2017 to fight Amir Khan.

The date was confirmed by Pacquiao and Khan via their verified Twitter handles on Sunday.

“Negotiations between team Pacquiao and team Khan have come to terms for the April 23 bout as this is what the fans wanted,” Pacquiao tweeted.

On his part, Khan wrote: “My team and I have agreed terms with Manny Pacquiao and his team for a super fight #pacquiaokhan #April23rd.”

A venue for the fight is yet to be announced.

Khan’s last fight was in May 2016, when he was knocked out by Mexican Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.

Pacquaio retired in April last year, but returned to claim his belt by beating Jessie Vargas in November.

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Ronaldo Beats Messi By 800% When It Comes To Return On Social Media For Their Brands

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Lionel Messi took to Facebook this month to reveal a contract extension with German sportswear giant Adidas. It is reportedly a lifetime deal or at least until the end of Messi’s life on the pitch. No financial terms were released. Forbes estimates Messi earned $12 million annually under his prior agreement.

Messi’s longtime rival Cristiano Ronaldo signed his own “lifetime” deal with Nike at the end of 2015. Reports place that deal on par with LeBron James’ lifetime pact, which James’ business manager says is worth as much as a $1 billion.

The comparison between Ronaldo and Messi is never-ending. They play for the two most valuable soccer clubs in the world in Real Madrid and Barcelona. They were the two highest-paid athletes in the world last year, earning a combined $169 million. They won the Ballon d’Or as soccer’s top player nine straight years with the other ranking second every time but once (Messi has a record five nods with Ronaldo just behind at four).

They are close rivals in almost all respects, except when it comes to social media. Yes, Messi has a massive following on Instagram and Facebook (Adidas runs the Messi Twitter account) with 152 million fans. Only Neymar and Ronaldo have more followers. But when it comes to the value generated from those accounts, Messi gets lapped by Ronaldo, according to data from Hookit, which measures the social and digital media value for brands.

Ronaldo generated a staggering $500 million in value for Nike during 2016 from his social media accounts, which have 260 million followers, including 65 million new followers last year. His 120 million Facebook fans are more than anyone else on the planet. Ronaldo posted 347 times with a Nike logo or mention that had garnered 477 million interactions (likes, shares or comments). One Instagram post alone after Portugal won the Euro 2016 Final was worth $5.8 million to Nike thanks to 1.7 million likes and nearly 13,000 comments.

Messi has a vast following, but he produced “only” $53.5 million in value for Adidas on social media during 2016. Blame fewer posts that promoted Adidas (213) compared to Ronaldo/Nike and dramatically fewer interactions with 65 million (Hookit also factors in promotion quality to their values in regards to size and clarity). Messi’s top promoted post in 2016 was on Instagram in September with 2.5 million likes and 38,000 comments. It was worth $3.6 million in media value for Adidas.

While Messi is an Adidas guy and Ronaldo is aligned with Nike, their roles are flipped on their respective La Liga teams. Adidas has a deal with Ronaldo’s Real Madrid and Barcelona extended its deal with Nike last year at a price of $165 million per year (their national teams, Portugal and Argentina, are aligned the same as their player endorsement deals).

So Ronaldo promotes Nike’s biggest competitor in his posts when he is wearing Real Madrid uniforms or practice gear and vice-versa with Messi. In that sense, Ronaldo generated almost as much value for Adidas last year as Messi did. Ronaldo’s 36 promoted posts featuring the Adidas three stripes produced $50 million in media value thanks to 45 million interactions, per Hookit. An August training video of Ronaldo on Instagram heavily promoted Adidas and was worth $3.6 million.

Messi was much more restrained in his social posts featuring the Nike Swoosh. He had only two Nike posts in 2016 worth $830,000.

credit: forbes

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Mourinho pays tribute to Claudio Ranieri with initials on shirt

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Jose Mourinho has criticized the Leicester City players for putting themselves first and letting down manager Claudio Ranieri before he was sacked just nine months after winning the Premier League title.

Mourinho turned up for his weekly press conference on Friday with the initials ‘CR’ printed on the front of his training top in dedication to Ranieri after posting a picture of the two men on social media.

The Portuguese coach also experienced being sacked by Chelsea in December 2015, the season after leading them to the title, but said that was ‘peanuts’ compared to the way Ranieri has been treated by Leicester.

Jose Mourinho wore a shirt with the letters ‘CR’ on it in tribute to sacked boss

But Mourinho saved his most scathing criticism for the Leicester players who are understood to have turned against their Italian manager as the fairy tale turned sour.

‘If some of the stories I am reading are true or are a little bit true, it’s hard to find words to justify that,’ he said. ‘As managers we have to be ready to cope with that.

‘Probably the season started with the typical selfishness of others, people thinking about new contracts, leaving, more money, forgetting who helped them to reach a certain level.

‘This is not just football it’s a bit of our world. Some principles are going away a little bit. I’m really sorry about it but I lived a similar experience. I thought last season when I was sacked as a champion it was a giant negative thing, now I realise it was peanuts to what happened with Claudio.’

Mourinho lines up alongside Ranieri in the tunnel ahead of this season's Community Shield

Mourinho lines up alongside Ranieri in the tunnel ahead of this season’s Community Shield

Ranieri led relegation tipped Leicester to a hugely unexpected Premier League title last season

Ranieri led relegation tipped Leicester to a hugely unexpected Premier League title last season

Asked about his tributes to Ranieri, Mourinho added: ‘It is my little homage to somebody that write the most beautiful history of the Premier League. Somebody that deserves the Leicester stadium to be named Claudio Ranieri (Stadium) and he is sacked.

‘Leicester made history two years in a row – one year because they did the most beautiful thing in the Premier League and one of most beautiful things in football history, now they are also in the highlights with the decision that I think has everyone in football united because it is something very very difficult to accept. It is good to realise how football is, and we need to adapt to it

‘My Instagram and shirt are homage. I don’t think he needs more homages because no-one can believe what he did. No one can do anything about it. No one can delete history.

‘I think it’s Claudio’s fault because if last season instead of being champion he finished 12th, it would be amazing and he would still be in a job because Leicester play not to be relegated. He’s paying for his success, it’s his fault.’

Read More: www.dailymail.co.uk

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