Long way back for Umtiti

It wasn’t that long ago that Samuel Umtiti was a fixture in Barcelona’s back four. An untouchable player and one of the first on the team sheet.

He’d taken to La Liga effortlessly and, considering how prices for players have sky-rocketed, at just €25m, he looked like an absolute bargain.

His skillset also complemented that of Gerard Pique perfectly, and there were never any question marks over his starting spot in the team.

In the space of a year, all that has changed. Continue reading

Barcelona’s four unsung heroes of 2018/19

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Barcelona stand on the cusp of another La Liga title. Their dominance in 2018/19 domestically mirrors that of the previous season, with Ernesto Valverde having lost only three league games to date as coach.

As ever during the summer months, each club is looking to improve their squad, so when Barca added Arturo Vidal, Clement Lenglet, Arthur and, at the 11th hour, Malcom, supporters were a little underwhelmed.

They’d heard a lot about Arthur but he wasn’t tested in Europe, Vidal wasn’t a ‘Barca type player,’ Lenglet had been part of the Sevilla side that had just lost 5-0 to the Catalans in the Copa Del Rey final and Malcom was an unknown quantity at the top level. Continue reading

Lenglet’s form could see Umtiti leave Barcelona this summer

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Who’d have thought it?!

With a handful of games to go in the 2018/19 La Liga season, teams are already jostling for position in terms of transfer dealings and one of the most surprising rumours surrounds Samuel Umtiti.

The World Cup winner, arguably one of the best central defenders in the world, could be on his way out of Barcelona thanks to the form of Clement Lenglet. Continue reading

Barcelona face tough run, as Real Madrid mount challenge

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Defending La Liga champions are facing a tough run of fixtures in domestic and European action, just as bitter rivals Real Madrid are preparing a late bid for the league title.

Ernesto Valverde’s side have drawn their last two league games, against Valencia and Athletic Bilbao, dropping four key points, in the same fortnight that Santiago Solari’s team have beaten Alaves and Atletico Madrid.

That has nudged Los Blancos ahead of their city rivals as the Catalan side’s main challengers, and the current leaders will be looking over their shoulder.

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Sevilla considering Eric Bailly move to bolster their defence

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La Liga side Sevilla are considering a shock bid for Manchester United defender Eric Bailly, as Pablo Machin looks to strengthen his back line during the January transfer window.

Ivory Coast international Bailly is reported to be unhappy at the recent departure of Jose Mourinho from the club, and is considering his future in England, after starting just one game under new manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

According to Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo, Bailly is open to a return to Spain – where he enjoyed spells at Espanyol between 2014-15 and Villarreal between 2015-16 – before making the move to Old Trafford.

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Barcelona swoop for Valencia defender Jeison Murillo

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Barcelona have made their first move of the La Liga January 2019 transfer window, by bringing in 26 year old defender Jeison Murillo on a loan dea until the end of the season, from Valencia.

Colombian international Murillo has appeared just once in league action for Marcelino’s side so far this season, after joining from Italian side Inter Milan in the summer.

Murillo initially signed on a two year loan contract at the start of last season, with an obligation for Valencia to buy inserted into the details the deal.

Valencia exercised the purchase option at the start of the season, after he made 17 La Liga appearances in 2017-18, as they returned to the Top Four in Spain. However he has become more and more of a fringe player this season, and now Barcelona have accepted a purchase option on him at the end of the 2018-19 campaign.

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Barcelona set for Umtiti injury waiting game

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Barcelona have confirmed that defender Samuel Umtiti will not undergo knee surgery, but the La Liga holders have confirmed that he will remained sidelined with the issue.

Umtiti had not played for the Catalan side since September 26th, prior to their 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid last weekend.

However manager Ernesto Valverde brought the French international back into the fold for the crunch tie against Diego Simeone’s side, despite uncertainty over his fitness, due to other defenders being ruled out.

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Should Pique be dropped?

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Gerard Pique remains a world class defender, however, does that make him un-droppable for Barcelona?

In the recent past, the elegant Catalan will be the first to acknowledge that he’s not been at his best for his club side.

A dip in form is only to be expected from time to time, but should a player then be taken out of the firing line or allowed to work through it? Continue reading

Defensive issues remain a concern for Barcelona

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Barcelona slipped to their first La Liga defeat of the season in midweek, going down to a shock 2-1 loss to struggling Leganes.

Ernesto Valverde’s side remain top of the table, as Real Madrid slipped to a 3-0 defeat away at Sevilla, but he will be concerned with their leakiness in defence.

The defending La Liga champions have now failed to keep a clean sheet in their last four domestic games, including wins over Huesca and Real Sociedad, a draw with Girona and the loss to Leganes.

The former Athletic Bilbao boss has rotated his back four in those games, with injuries and suspensions forcing his hand at times.

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Barcelona continue to build for the future with Lenglet signing

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Barcelona have stepped up their efforts to boost their squad ahead of the 2018-19 season, by signing Clement Lenglet from La Liga rivals Sevilla.

The Catalan club have already lost midfield pair Andres Iniesta and Paulinho already this summer, and manager Ernesto Valverde knows that they both need to be replaced.

So far he has continued his policy of signing young players – to supplement the experienced quality of his squad.

Last summer he signed Gerard Deulofeu – who has since departed to Watford on a permanent deal – Nelson Semedo and Ousmane Dembele, all under 25 – along with Philippe Coutinho, at 26.

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