La Liga continues to be surprised by new comers Cadiz

Look at the Spanish league table and you may be very surprised to see who is currently in 5th place. It is Cadiz, and while people in Spain have most certainly heard of the club there are probably a fair few football fans around the world who haven’t. Still that may have changed when last weekend they beat Barcelona, and eyebrows have certainly be raised. What can Cadiz achieve this season?

In reality before the start of the new campaign just finishing 17th would have been seen as success for the club, after all for a club like Cadiz the main objective after being promoted from the Segunda has to be survival. But the club has really punched above their weight and produced some fantastic results along the way.

Presently they have won 5 games from 12 and lost 4, the win over Barcelona ended a 3 game run without victory. Clearly there is much to be done at the club who lack consistency, but nobody was expecting such a good and solid start from them.

Cadiz are back in La Liga and it has taken 14 years and perhaps there that is not a coincidence given that the club have had a busy 18 months behind the scenes. At the end of 2019 Manuel Vizcaino Fernandez was given the job of chairman a contract signed for the next six years. Then, just a few months later, an unnamed American investor bought a minority stake in the club, and while Cadiz will still operate on a limited budget it has still helped the club to move forward and grow.

Alvaro Cervera is the coach of Cadiz and he has spent the majority of his career in the lower leagues. But his average win rates have been above 50% and the 55 year old has been at Cadiz for the past four years. It is refreshing one could claim that Cerveza has been kept on when Cadiz finally got promotion to La Liga and with the way they have started his job isn’t under threat anytime soon.

The player that has stood out for the club so far is Fali in defence and he has 17 fantasy points. Fali has helped 5 clean sheets and he was signed from Barcelona’s B team. But one of the keys to Cadiz’s success has been veteran striker Alvaro Negredo most famous perhaps for his stint at Real Madrid a decade ago and of course he has also played for Manchester City. At 35 playing for Cadiz in the top flight has really worked out for Negredo and he has been involved in six goals so far, 3 goals and 3 assists.

Like Fali, Cala has also impressed at the back and also kept 5 clean sheets. He is 31 now and started his career at Sevilla. It has been this mix of veteran quality players and youth that has propelled Cadiz and made sure, at least for now, that their season will be about trying to stay in the top half of the table rather than in 17th place, and any fan of the club is going to accept that.

With 18 points so far for Cadiz which is four more than Barcelona albeit Cadiz have played 2 games more, means that the club are projected to finish the season with 57 points. That would mark an excellent return, let’s see if they can achieve it.

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How Aston Villa have gone from near relegation to Champions League contenders in 4 months

Dean Smith has shown us many emotions in 2020, from near despair in July when the extended Premier League finished to utter jubilation just a few months later when Villa destroyed champions Liverpool 7-2. What everyone wants to know is, how has Smith been able to turn things around so much and so quickly?

Aston Villa’s status that they would remain in the Premier League was only confirmed on the last weekend of last season after they drew 1-1 at West Ham. The club finished with a total of 35 points and only earned 1 more point than 18th placed Bournemouth- even the goal difference was only 1 out so everything could have changed on that final weekend.

It is interesting to note though that Villa did go their last four games of the season unbeaten quite a mean feat for a team who lost 21 games. With Villa’s participation safe for this season, from the outside it seemed as though Dean Smith’s team would be amongst the favourites to be relegated this season, a kind of well done, but maybe last seasons escapade was simply a stay of execution.

And yet here we are in November of the new season and after 8 games Aston Villa are in 6th place. They have been a regular top four side too though faced back to back defeats recently and that looked like the call for them to start slipping down the league table. Villa’s last game was away to Arsenal who have improved this season, the script had been written that Villa would now lose 3 games in a row and their 15 minutes of fame was about to be quashed. But Villa had other thoughts and out played Arsenal winning that game 3-0. Now we probably have to take Smith’s side seriously. After all they come into this weekend having already beaten Arsenal, Leicester and Liverpool.

So what has been the turn around at the club? In the summer Villa made 3 interesting buys bringing in Bertrand Traore from Lyon for £17m, Matty Cash from Nottingham Forest for £14m and Ollie Watkins from Brentford for £28m. The fee they paid Brentford for Watkins certainly raised many eyebrows, not because it felt like a steep transfer for a player playing lower league but because of the anticipation of who Villa have just had the confidence to splash that amount of money on a lower league player. And of course the fee was a club record.

Well Watkins is repaying his managers faith and has scored 6 league goals in seven appearances including a perfect hat trick against none other than Liverpool in that infamous 7-2 win over the Reds.

But while Villa were happy to splash the cash spending over £70m once you take out Watkins it has actually been the players that were already at the club that have made the most impact. Stand up Jack Grealish, a player who has been hyped for several seasons, his only problem being that he was playing in the Championship and nobody could really tell if he had the right level for the Premier League. After a debut season in the top flight which only saw flashes of his brilliance he has really turned it on for this season.

Grealish has been Aston Villa’s number 1 outstanding player so far. The midfielder has scored 4 goals and assisted in another five and his value in the fantasy football league is just 3.5m and he has amassed a total of 33 points already. He has a new found hunger and loves his free role that Smith has given him as play maker.

Ross Barkley has been another brilliant signing, the former Everton player was struggling to make an impact at Chelsea but has already done more in his work rate with Aston Villa in a few months than a few seasons at Stamford Bridge. He also grabbed an all important 3 points with the only goal when Villa beat Leicester 1-0 at King Power Stadium.

The biggest change for Villa though seems to be in their attack minded tactics. Last season the club looked to afraid to come out and just hoped to settle for draws, but with the attacking players at their disposal Smith has adopted a rule of attack first, and it seems to be working.

On the change up Smith said: “We always felt that if we retained our Premier League status, we could be more strategic in our planning this year.”

Villa certainly have been and at home they have adopted a 4-2-3-1 formation, but don’t be fooled into thinking that Villa are playing 1 up front. All three players in midfield are very capable of switching to attack and that has been telling giving that the club have scored 18 goals so far this season, only Tottenham and Chelsea have netted more.

This weekend Aston Villa will play Brighton at home where they will be the favourites to win and if they do they would go into 2nd place, so there is all to play for and all eyes will be on Dean Smith’s side this season as they try to finish in a European place.

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Why Southampton could be the next Leicester under Hasenhuttl

One team of the last decade that has really made huge improvements on a limited budget has been Premier League side Southampton.

It’s interesting to go back 10 years and note that Southampton were playing in League One, the third tier of English football and have progressively recovered to become a staple side in the top flight. Since 2012 they have been a regular fixture in the Premier League and one senses that the club went through 3 stages; the first one was celebrating if they were to finish 17th, poor season, but survival. The second to become a mid table team and the third to challenge for honours and European places. This current season could be the one to define the club.

The Saints as they are known by their nickname have hired some very good managers. They were the ones that brought Mauricio Pochettino to England when they hired him from Espanyol and he guided the club to 8th place before joining Tottenham. They have also hired Ronald Koeman in that time who pulled off some terrific results. Koeman guided the club to seventh then 6th place finishes each time qualifying for the Europa League- no mean feat for a club who six years prior were playing in League One.

It was only in 2017 that Chinese company Lander Sports Investment decided to buy a stake in the club and now the overall stake owner is Gaio Jisheng, and he has invested a lot of funds within the club to bring in real quality. But with the team struggling to keep solid managers that had a proven track record they needed to nail down someone else that would commit more seasons to them. It seems that in Ralph Hasenhutl they have found their man.

Hasenhuttl came from RB Lepizig and spent the majority of his playing career in Austria though towards the end of his playing time he also played in Germany.

Hasenhuttl joined the Saints in the middle of the 2018/19 season where the club were residing in 18th place with Mark Hughes freshly sacked and he was able to guide the club to 16th and safety. Small steps but steps that were needed. At this time it felt like Southampton were going backwards from the beginning of the decade because they were not able to keep hold of quality managers and also were selling players. Virgil van Dijk and Sadio Mane who both went to Liverpool being prime examples.

In his next season the Saints finished 11th and 18 points from the relegation zone and finished the season so strong that he was awarded the manager of the month. In this current season the club are one of the best in form sides in the league and are in 4th place just 2 points shy of the top spot.

There are a few players, stand out ones, that have really contributed to Southampton’s start. Danny Ings really burst on the scene last season for the club scoring 22 goals meaning he finished joint 2nd in the top goalscorers list for the Premier League. He has started this season off well too netting 4 goals in just 5 games. After selling van Dijk and Mane to Liverpool it only seems fair that in the end Southampton would get some quality back, and Ings was brought in from the Reds initially on loan and then a permanent transfer.

Jannick Vestergaard at the back has been another astute signing. The centre back has made mistakes but he has also remained solid after his transfer from Borussia Monchengladbach 2 years ago and has worked closely under Hasenhutl. He also pops up for the odd goal too and has already made himself quite a name this season.

There is a lot of quality in this Southampton side to the point that on any given week when everything clicks they can absolutely beat any team in the league. And their figure point is James Ward-Prowse, the current captain of the club.

Ward-Prowse has been with Southampton since the beginning of the 2010s when they were playing in the Championship, he is the Jamie Vardy of Southampton, a one man club for so long, though in Ward-Prowse’s case he really is a one man club. They will likely build a statue of him when he leaves, and fans will be hoping that the 26 year old will stay at the club for many more years yet.

His form has been brilliant and of course that could well attract some of the bigger players in the game. He is the pivotal reason Southampton have started the season so well and when he is on form the club as a whole are.

Could Southampton go a huge step forward then and win the league? It doesn’t seem likely but then again look at Leicester and what they achieved with a decent manager and a few good players.

Of course the objective this season for Southampton isn’t so much to win the league but to be a force within it and try and finish in their highest ever position. At this current time without doubt they are one of the best this season and that in itself is an incredible feat given this time last year they were reeling from a 9-0 home defeat by one…. Leicester City, in which many comparisons can be made.

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How Jokin Aperribay and Imanol Alguacil have guided Real Sociedad to the top of La Liga

Take a look at the La Liga table and the team sitting on top are none other than Real Sociedad. The club from the Basque country are showing their best form since they almost won the league title in 2002/03 after an epic battle with Real Madrid. But what chance does the club have now of repeating that challenge and maybe going one step further?

Club owner Jokin Aperribay will be celebrating 10 years as president and though they haven’t always been memorable at a team like Sociedad a lot of work must go on in the background to see the benefits down the line and that seems to be paying off this season.

Real Sociedad really are a throw back in time to when teams did not spend millions on the latest talent. Sure Sociedad have dipped into that arena once or twice but the clubs core values are simply to promote from within and their youth system is of utter importance.

A few years ago Aperribay said: “When they come to the first team it’s incredible news, these players come up through our system and know our colours, they understand our community and they are willing to push that and work hard and be part of the community and understand why we are here.” This is a reinforcement of promoting from within something that has all but died with most European clubs and especially the elite and it is a refreshing method.

The choice of coach at the club then shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. Imanol Alguacil is Sociedad through and through. The 49 year old started his career at Sociedad playing for the B team and spent a total of 9 years with the club in the 1990s. His managerial career has followed suit and he has only been in charge of either the Real Soceidad B team or the senior and that has been ongoing since 2011.

Imanol as he is widely known by just his first name in Spain stands for everything that Sociedad represent. A local that played the majority of his career with the club and is now coach- Sociedad’s ethics simply wouldn’t have it any other way. And for this season especially Imanol’s inner workings of the club and the backing of the president are seeing all of that hard work rewarded.

There is real quality in the side and leading the fantasy rankings is Remiro the goalkeeper who already has 28 points and has kept 4 clean sheets and only conceded four goals since the beginning of the season.

Attack is good too in the form of Mikel Oyarzabal who has scored 5 goals and assisted in a further 2. Portu has been a rock in midfield and he also has a total of 28 points and has scored four goals and assisted in another two and these are players that are regularly making the best La Liga team of the weekends.

One of the most important players for Sociedad is arguably David Silva. Though he is coming to the end of his career the talented player- a legend for Manchester City and much missed in England has impressed for his new club. But what else would one expect from one of the best players of his generation in the last decade. The move felt like a surprise but Silva is obviously content and the experience that he can bring to the side just in the dressing room really can’t be measured.

Presently Real Sociedad sit in 1st place with 17 points and have won 4 games in a row. Even though Real Madrid are just a point behind and have a game in hand what is encouraging is that Sociedad are scoring goals. It really is the best way to measure a team. The club beat Celta Vigo last weekend 4-1 and before that put another four goals past Huesca. In all they have scored 14 goals in their past four games and have 18 so far this season which is easily the most in the league.

How far can Sociedad go this season? We should know more by Christmas but their main rivals at this time will be Real Madrid and the emerging Atletico Madrid.

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How Wolves have made progress in the Premier League with their football and sports science

Wolves have had some rich and successful years in the top tier of English football though we would have to go back to the 1950s when the team were at their best. Then they won 3 league titles and finished that decade off with an FA Cup win. After that the club had many problems, even in the 1980s they were close to financial ruin and bad investments and runs of bad luck have not helped the club in the latter years. But all of that has changed under current owners Fosun International.

Fosun themselves were only founded in 1992 and took ownership of Wolves in 2016 for just £45m and steadily they have seen incredible progress. When one thinks that Wolves have become a staple top 10 side in the Premier League and reached the quarter finals of the Europa League last season that is a stunning achievement compared to just over a decade ago when the club were plying their trade in the 3rd tier of English football.

It took a season to get their man who would turn out to be a superb capture in former Porto player Nuno Espirito Santo. And he has gone on to have a win rate of 51% with Wolves winning 84 of the 164 games he has coached for the club and losing just 39 games. Indeed only in his first managerial job with Rio Ave has he ever dipped under a 50% win average.

It was in Santo’s first season with the club that he made a huge impact as Wolves won the Championship for promotion to the Premier League and it was special given that it was in the clubs 140th anniversary year. The following season in the Premier League was Wolves’ return to the top tier since 2012 and they finished seventh and reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup in a memorable season for them.

The next season the club finished in the same position proving their consistency and of course had that superb run in the Europa League reaching the quarter-finals and only being beaten in the end by Sevilla who would go on to win the competition that season.

In Santo’s time so far there are a few players that have really stuck out. One was sold on to Liverpool this season in Diogo Jota and the player was initially taken on loan and then bought from Porto. Jota was an incredibly important part of the Wolves set up but was sold to Liverpool this season for a reported £45m. This was smart business from an financial stand as Fosun had made back their total investment in the club on one player. But it does remain to be seen how Jota’s sale especially to another Premier League club could hurt Wolves in the long run.

The other player who has made an impact and arguably the biggest is Raul Jimenez. Rare has it become not to see the players name amongst the goalscorers for the club now. Jimenez was bought from Benfica after a loan spell and he has scored 34 league goals in the last 82 games and has started this season well too scoring 4 goals in the first six matches.

Good investment, a driven manager and buying the right players are just three things that any club needs to be successful but there is also a key element that has been keeping Wolves well above the water and that has been in their injury department. Compared to other Premier League clubs Wolves have a very small percentage of injuries and in most games last season key players were always available and they hardly had any problems on the sidelines- they have started this season off in the very same way.

One of those key players behind the scenes was physio Phil Hayward who spent 11 years at the club. He has since moved onto LA Galaxy but the thinking is that Hayward spent such a happy and successful time at Wolves that he has passed on much of his information. Currently only Jonny is out long term for the club and Santo’s has a clean bill of health for his squad, he will be touching the dressing room wood that it stays this way throughout the season just like it has for the previous years.

Presently Wolves have had a bumpy start to the new season but the club are finding their way now and have gone their last 3 games unbeaten winning two of them and drawing their game last weekend 1-1 against Newcastle. They go into this weekend in 9th place and are keeping up that tradition of not only being a thorn in the side of so many of the bigger clubs but also a top 10 staple side.

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Should Arsenal be judged on how they have reacted during the Coronavirus?

The Coronavirus pandemic has hit the world and affected jobs and businesses the likes we haven’t seen since perhaps the second world war. But football clubs especially in the Premier League have still spent hundreds of millions on players over the last transfer window and it has become clear that even with no fans in attendance TV money certainly talks.

Good luck to the clubs and the structure of the Premier League, because a lot of hard work and promotion has gone into the product to make watching football in England’s top tier the most popular in the world. And this article is not about attacking one club in the Premier League but only because certain stories have surfaced that simply seem a little mind boggling.

The owners at Arsenal for example have made some questionable decisions that in a sensitive time have made very little sense. The first of which was letting 55 admin staff leave. Yes it’s true that the staff were not really needed anymore because of the virus meaning that there was less work available. But these were loyal staff and one wonders if the owners of the club really made the best choice, if not for them the right one?

It had been reported that the 55 staff laid off were going to save Arsenal just over £1m, that’s a lot of money, but in Premier League terms it feels more like a drop in the ocean. Countered only days after Willian joined the club on a free from Chelsea but was then given a reported £10m signing on fee. That’s one employee receiving 10 times the amount of 55 laid off staff and their years salary.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta came out and said that he understood the clubs decision. But did he really? Was this really what Arteta was thinking? He’s just been given the managers job and hardly wants to come across as controversial but of course was asked the question which would have put him in a position.

Just recently Arsenal made the decision to let their mascot leave the club, a mascot that had spent many seasons at Arsenal and only on a small wage not that much more than the minimum. Again the decision in black and white made sense. Mascot’s are not needed at empty grounds. But Arsenal can afford the mascots wages until hopefully the pandemic blows over within the next 6-12 months and Arsenal can afford their admins wages and try to give them different roles within the club.

But of course football is a business and money seemingly can’t be lost unless it is lost on a player or a manager. Arsenal isn’t a badly run club but maybe they have made some questionable decisions and of course like everyone else have been caught out by the virus. But if you’re spending £45m on one player, the recent purchase of Thomas Partey from Atletico Madrid one does have to wonder why loyal staff couldn’t have somehow been kept on for a small fraction of that price?

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How Andrea Radrizzani brought a new era to Leeds United

In May of this year Andrea Radrizzani was celebrating being in charge of Leeds United for 3 years, and what a time it has been for the club and the Italian owner.

There have been highs and lows but compared to the past 14 years that preceded him coming in the last 36 months have mostly been bliss for the club and the fans. Winning the Championship and gaining promotion back to the Premier League, the first time in 16 years is obviously the highlight, but after a few possible naive mistakes all the cards are starting to fit for Radrizzani and the club.

Those mistakes were infuriating the fans when the club sold Ronaldo Vieira who looked like the most promising player that the club had on their books for some time. Then there was the controversial change of badge. Not many owners can mess with a clubs traditional badge and get away with it. And his plan fell short when over 77,000 fans signed a petition that they were less than impressed.

But compared to the good times at the club since he came in and then bought 100% of the shares the above feel like small stories. A few managers came and went until Leeds found their balance and then two key figures arrived and they would be head hunted by Radrizzani himself.

The first was bringing in Marcelo Bielsa the eccentric but brilliant and detailed coach. The Argentinian arriving at the club was seen as a big surprise, one would think if Bielsa was coming to England it would only be to manage in the Premier League. But Bielsa recognised quickly how the history of English football and Leeds were joined at the hip, history always counts in football. He also took it up as a challenge.

The second key in the puzzle was the signing of Patrick Bamford, the striker came in for £7m which was the most the club had spent on a player since Robbie Fowler in 2001. Bamford has been exceptional with the club scoring 29 goals in all competitions for them, including 16 league goals in the Championship. This season in the Premier League was his big step up and he has already scored 3 goals in just three games.

Leeds have started the season well too. With 2 wins from their opening three games, and even when they were defeated it was away to champions Liverpool in a 4-3 thriller. There is something about Leeds under Bielsa and with Radrizzani behind the scenes the club will be hoping to capture the beauty, toughness and essence of their glory days once again.

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What is Brazilian legend Ronaldo’s ultimate goal with Real Valladolid?

In 2018 when Ronaldo, the 1990s Brazilian version became the majority owner of Spanish club Real Valladolid it certainly raised eyebrows.Why would Ronaldo become president of a club who were used to either being relegated or fighting in a relegation dog fight? The answer is the challenge and of course the affordability of the club, Ronaldo now owns 82% of the team, but is his project go after 2 years?

In Ronaldo’s first season of ownership Valladolid came 16th and just 4 points was the difference between staying in La Liga and playing their next season in the Segunda. Everyone at the club was obviously relived. They also made it to the quarter finals of the Copa del Rey which was no mean feat but all in all it was a season with a few highs and one to forget.

The next season saw an improvement in the league when they finished 13th but they had only ironically finished with 1 more point than the previous season and had only won a lowly 23% of their games.

This season marks the clubs 90th in existence. The objective of course is to improve and keep moving forwards. The club lost Mohammed Salisu to Premier League side Southampton but got a small fortune for him 12m euros. Transfers in and have been mostly free ones, though Fabian Orellana from Eibar catches the eye.

The project this season is to try and reach 50 points and finish in the top 10 and then for the season after qualification for the Europa League- this would be the best case scenario. But when Valladolid aren’t playing well one could just imagine that Ronaldo would love to rip off that suit, go back in time 20 years and get on that pitch pronto. The club lose a lot of games and that includes home ones, and this will be a frustrating role for Ronaldo before it gets better, and the fact is football can be cruel, it may never get better, especially if the club are relegated.

Valladolid played four pre-season games losing 2 of them but gained a decent 2-2 draw away to Portuguese side Braga in their last game before the La Liga season kicked off on September 12th.

In the league the club have played two games, starting with a 1-1 draw against Real Sociedad at home and then a defeat away to Real Betis losing 2-0. Michel, the attacking midfielder has scored the clubs only goal so far.

It will be a long and testing season for the club with such limited funds, their next game is on September 27th when they will play Celta Vigo at home. Home games will be so important for the club, and they must pick up points here, that is going to be key for survival for the 3rd time in a row under Ronaldo.

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If Messi does leave Barcelona it could take 10 years for them to recover

The ownership power struggle at Barcelona has been in decline for the past 3 years. It is why since 2017 Lionel Messi has had it in his contract that in principle at the end of each season he could leave for free.

That was a threat from Messi- a player considered by many as one of the greatest players to have graced the game. It was supposed to be a warning sign to the Barcelona board to step up and manage the team properly. Since then despite being dominant in Spain,

Barcelona have failed at the highest level- the Champions League. Each of the last 3 years they have been in good positions to win it. Think of the collapse against Roma and Liverpool. Messi has not won the Champions League since 2015 when he was 28. His prime years are disappearing and he may not win it again.

This week it was still a shock to find out that Messi had handed in a transfer request to a club where he was supposed to spend the rest of his career with. But in all honesty it wasn’t a surprise.

Barcelona have been run into the ground over the past few seasons. Some of the board have quit and Josep Maria Bartomeu has made some uneasy decisions. He has been criticised for the way Neymar joined PSG, something that Messi seemingly has never forgiven him for. Then there is the way that the Neymar money was ‘wasted’. Players such as Ousmane Dembele and Phillipe Coutinho cost £250m between them, and both have been poor.

Messi expected Barca to replace the departing Neymar with other star players yet instead the club got stuck with one player who is injury prone and another who was moved on loan to Bayern Munich. Messi probably assumed that at least from the massive fee earned from selling Neymar, Barca would be able to sign at least two quality players and perhaps two decent players as a bonus. If you are a fan of casinos, then do not forget to check exclusive Casino bonuses in Canada.

On the other side under Bartomeu the club have won 13 trophies in just 5 seasons, that includes 4 La Liga titles and a Champions League. But the problems have really been growing for the past 3 seasons especially. The hiring of Quique Setien, a good man but out of his depth at Barca was met with disdain, the 8-2 bashing that Barca took against Bayern Munich with no plan a let alone a plan b summarised Setien’s season, one where Barcelona ended trophy less.

He was eventually sacked and Ronald Koeman was named the new coach. The same Koeman whose career has been steadily declining in club football. True he was doing well with the Netherlands and got them to the UEFA Nations League final, and they were set to participate in next summers Euro’s. Ironically it looked like Koeman had found his stage with the national team. Club football is different, and if you fail with Everton you may be out of your depth with the egos at Barcelona. It feels as if Koeman was given the job to soothe the Barca fans, after all he is fondly remembered here for his time at the club in the early to mid 1990s.

Luis Suarez has been reportedly told that he won’t play for Barcelona again, this has further angered Messi, although that could be a good decision for the club, Suarez clearly has lost some of his devastating pace.

Things are changing at the club and it feels like a new era is around the corner. Even for Bartomeu that could be true given that the new elections are next March, and there will be a new president at the club.

So is Messi playing a bluff? Did he hand in the request for Bartomeu to walk now? After all which president of the club wants to be known as the guy who sunk the ship so low that Messi begged to leave.  As it stands Bartomeu is going nowhere and neither is Messi. The problem is that Messi believed he could leave for free but that expired at the end of May. However Messi’s argument and it is a good one is that his get out of the club free expires at the end of each season. Because of the pandemic the curtain on the season last only came down 4 days ago. Maybe just maybe he has a point.

This is going to be high drama either way you look at it and most transfer windows in Europe will be open until the beginning of October, so this could run and run. Barca want 700m euros for a 33 year old, it doesn’t matter if Messi was 10x better than he is and aged 18 that wouldn’t be happening.

There are many consequences here and even though the club has handled affairs over the past few seasons poorly it also does not seem fair on them with La Liga starting soon that Messi would deliver this bombshell and want to leave for free. There are remember rumours circulating that Messi has a say on who will join the club and who will play with him. Did he have too much power himself? Is he really full of anger because the club could not prize back Neymar from PSG? One wonders if both parties and not just the club are at fault on this one.

If Messi leaves and with so much change revolving around the club it would surely be an end of an era for the Catalan giants. One could rule out trophies for next season especially against a well-oiled machine like Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid will want to bounce back from an indifferent season also.

One is reminded of the early 2000s when Barcelona were genuinely suffering after Rivaldo left the club and they were struggling in La Liga. It took the club 5 years to bounce back then.But this is Messi who can guide a club, just look at this season, they won nothing and yet there he was again, aged 33 and still top goalscorer in Spain with ease.

Messi’s influence should not be underestimated and yet like so many other world class players before him it looks increasingly like he is going to leave the club by the back door. He will be remembered as one of the greats and Barcelona simply won’t be the same without him on that field. It really could take the club some time to recover perhaps 10 years before they get a great team together once again who can also gel.

What you have to remember with Barcelona is that finishing 2nd to them is like finishing 10th, what does it matter if you don’t win trophies and if a club like them go 3 seasons without winning the league it really is a crisis. If Messi leaves and the structure of the club falls apart because of it the recovery time could be a long way off.

As for Messi the favourites to sign him are Manchester City. That would make sense, with Pep Guardiola there and the way the club play such an attacking style and of course Messi could fit right into the vacant David Silva role. They look the favourites to get him or perhaps PSG who at least put their marker down this year by reaching the Champions League final.

Let the drama unfold.

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Newcastle takeover collapses and the fans are now demanding why

Yet another Newcastle takeover has collapsed, but this one feels different. Usually when a takeover doesn’t work out the Magpies fans moan about it on forums, grunt and move on.

Knowing that they are stuck with current owner Mike Ashley yet again (as is widely known Newcastle fans have very little love for Ashley throughout the years). But after the latest takeover bid ended and the Saudi consortium pulled out fans have gone that one step further. They organised a petition and have now got an impressive 75,000 signatures wanting to know the ins and outs as to why their club wasn’t sold this summer.

The Newcastle trust of fans have sent pleas to the FA about why such a deal that looked like it was going through for the past 17 weeks has collapsed. They have even sent a letter to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

It’s refreshing to see fans want some clarification. One wonders what has happened behind the scenes. The Saudi takeover was always going to be open to investigation by the FA. This is a normal process to see if the new owners are proper and fit and not investing money illegally. No one but the FA at this stage know why the deal has collapsed, so the petition is a step in the right direction. What is also interesting is that Newcastle’s former player and a much respected one from the 1990s Rob Lee has also got involved adding his weight to proceedings.

Current owner Mike Ashley has faced years of verbal abuse over his running of the club, from the managers that he has brought in, not spending enough money for the size of the club and even at one point changing the name of the infamous ground from St.James’ Park to the Sports Direct Arena. Sports Direct is his company outside of football.The name change at least didn’t last.

It has been reported that Ashley who has usually been very stubborn about selling the club really wants out this time. He has even been in touch with the consortium since the collapse and is hopeful that a deal could be revived. This would make sense given that the club are up for sale for around £300m.

One person who may have been quietly happy about a non sale is current manager Steve Bruce. Bruce has done well in his debut season in the dug out, and the fear for him would be new owners, new manager, especially as the owners were going to bring a lot of money to the table.

This story clearly isn’t over. But with just over a month until the new Premier League season starts fans and Ashley will want a conclusion.

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