Malcom has earned his chance of more first team football at Barcelona

One night last summer a group of excited Roma fans assembled at the city’s airport, as they often do, to welcome a new signing. The only problem was that signing, Malcom, never arrived. In what became one of the stories of the summer transfer window, the Brazilian winger was poached by Barcelona, leaving Roma, and their fans, disappointed.

Conspiracy theories bounced around over why Barcelona, a team already well-stocked with world class wingers, had made a move for Malcom. Some claimed that the Catalans had deliberately sabotaged Roma’s efforts to sign the Brazilian after their embarrassing exit to the Serie A outfit in the quarter finals of the Champions League the season before.

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That seemed a little farfetched, but it was certainly true that Malcom arrived at Camp Nou without an obvious place in the team waiting for him. After all, Ousmane Dembele had nailed down the one vacant position in the Barcelona front three, with Philippe Coutinho also signed as the club’s most expensive ever player just a few months prior.

It was therefore unsurprising that Malcom barely featured over the first half of the season, having to make do with the odd cameo appearance late on off the bench. In fact, the Brazilian winger had to wait until November to be handed his first start for his new club. After that, he had to wait until late January for his second start.

Something has changed, though. Malcom is starting to make his mark at Barcelona. He is making the most of those late cameo appearances off the bench and with Dembele struggling through injury Ernesto Valvede has started to place his faith in the former Bordeaux player.

This was apparent in Barcelona’s trip to face Villarreal on Tuesday, a match that would ultimately finish 4-4 after a stunning fightback by the Catalans. With Lionel Messi rested from the start, the attacking onus was placed on Malcom. And he delivered, scoring once and assisting another in the opening 16 minutes.

Malcom has, in fact, played well almost every time he has come off the bench this season, it’s just that he is rarely given time to show what he can do. Now, the Brazilian seems to have earned the trust of Valverde and that could see him become a key figure for Barcelona between now and the end of the season.

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Barcelona aiming to have La Liga title secure by April

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Barcelona will look to have successfully retained their La Liga title before the end of April, in time for a potential Champions League semi final.

As it stands, Ernesto Valverde’s side a huge favourites to win back to back domestic titles, with a ten point lead over second place Atletico Madrid, with nine games to go in the 2018-19 campaign.

If Barcelona win all of their forthcoming games, they will be Spanish champions again with three games to spare – winning the league at home to Levante at the Nou Camp on April 27th.

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Valverde looks for squad depth ahead of season run in

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Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde will be looking to reach into his first team squad as they prepare to defend in their La Liga title in the closing weeks of the season.

Barring a significant decline in form, the former Athletic Bilbao boss will oversee a second successive league title in charge at the Nou Camp, with a Champions League quarter final clash with Manchester United also to come.

However he will need to balance his squad in the coming weeks, with injuries playing a role, and the need to preserve some of his star players for European competition.

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Malcom has posed Valverde a few questions…

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The big games need big performances, and with Lionel Messi only on the bench for Barcelona against Real Madrid in midweek, Ernesto Valverde was counting on Malcom doing the business.

Perhaps the situation was forced upon him by Ousmane Dembele’s injury, because were the Frenchman fit then we would surely have seen him take his place on the right hand side of a front three.

As it was, his omission gave Malcom the chance to get some much-needed minutes under his belt and, hopefully, show the Catalans what he was capable of. Continue reading

Tottenham interested in Barcelona’s Malcom

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Tottenham are eyeing a move for Barcelona forward Malcom, according to media reports in Spain, with the reigning La Liga champions open to offers for the Brazilian.

The 21 year old signed from Bordeaux in the summer for a fee of €40 million, plus add ons, however injuries and the impressive form of French international Ousmane Dembele has restricted his first team opportunities so far in 2018-19.

Ernesto Valverde is now believed to be willing to listen to bids for the speedy attacker, although the club will be determined to see a financial return on their initial investment.

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Struggling Lazio Turn To Transfer Window To Change Fortunes

Following an inconsistent end to 2018, Lazio are aware reinforcements are needed if they are to achieve top four. After barely missing out on Europe’s elite competition last season on the final match-day against Inter, the biancocelesti will not let Champions League football and its lucrative rewards slip away on the second time of asking. With Roma and Milan both struggling with problems of their own, this year is as good as any for Simone Inzaghi’s side to make fourth place their own. Here are three players that Lazio have been reportedly interested in to bolster their stuttering roster.

As of late, Chelsea wingback Davide Zappacosta has been heavily linked with a move to Lazio, especially since finding himself on the outskirts of the first team under Maurizio Sarri. With Adam Marusic failing to hit last season’s highs, and with Patric and Dusan Basta barely challenging him, reinforcements out wide are necessary. For 13 million euros, Lazio will be getting a player familiar with the Italian game and more importantly, an ideal fit for Inzaghi’s system.

Throughout his time at Torino, Zappacosta thrived as a right wingback and established himself as a regular with the national team prompting Antonio Conte to bring him to London. After Conte’s departure, however, the fullback was deemed surplus to requirements due to Sarri’s different footballing philosophy and is in dire need in a change of scenery. Lazio could not only provide him that, but can also help him reach his former heights in a familiar environment.

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Barcelona keen on PSG star Adrien Rabiot

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La Liga leaders Barcelona have confirmed their interest in signing French international Adrien Rabiot from Ligue 1 side Paris Saint Germain.

The midfielder’s contract expires at the end of the 2018-19 season, and he is free to confirm terms with non French teams during the January transfer window, with a view to sealing a move in the summer.

His situation has become increasingly tense with the French giants, with widespread reports that he has been banned from the club’s dressing room on match days by the club’s hierarchy.

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Three players who could leave Barcelona in January

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There are just another few weeks remaining until the transfer window is open for business once again.

Noises have already been made from various players and clubs, some more subtle than others it must be said.

Most of the spadework on deals will have been done prior to January 1, 2019, with the nuts and bolts of any switch to be ironed out in good time after that date. Continue reading

Early La Liga fixtures favour Barcelona title defence

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Barcelona began their La Liga title defence with a 3-0 home win over Alaves last weekend, and they have a favourable run of games right up until mid-October.

Ernesto Valverde’s side won the domestic double last season, losing just one game in the La Liga season, and they look in strong form to win back-to-back titles for the first time since 2016.

The former Athletic Bilbao manager has focused on youth within his summer transfer policy, bringing in Arthur Melo and Malcom – alongside the experience of Arturo Vidal.

They are set to play a key role for the Catalan side this season, combined with their established superstars, and the early season run of games lends itself to a title push.

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Roma turn their attention to Steven Nzonzi after Malcom fiasco

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Roma were left standing at the alter last week as they lost out to Barcelona for the signature of Malcom. The Giallorossi were poised to welcome the Brazilian as were the fans, who were waiting at the airport for the player after they previously welcomed Robin Olsen, who arrived  just two hours before Malcom’s Continue reading