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La Liga

Barca Guns For Nigerian-Born Dele Alli to Replace Neymar

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The reality of losing Neymar has dawned on FC Barcelona as they have started head hunting for possible replacement for the Brazilian. The club has narrowed the hunt to three English Premiership players.

Among them is the Nigerian-born Dele Alli of Tottenham Hotspur, the prodigy that the 2017 Soccerex report picked as the world’s most valuable player for this year.

Alli was impressive last season in the English Premiership scoring 28 goals. He was once linked with a possible move to Real Madrid.

Other players that Sports Village Square gathered are in Barcelona radar are Philippe Coutinho who was earlier nominated by Neymar, and Chelsea star, Eden Hazard.

Barcelona is believed to see Brazil’s Coutinho as a potential long-term successor to club captain, legend Andres Iniesta in a deeper role than Neymar has occupied.

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Sports Village Square gathered that the shortlist is being drawn in preparation for the imminent departure of Neymar.

The exit of the Brazilian will leave a big gap in the Barcelona team, but that is cushioned by the large sum of money the club will get in return.

With the expected inflow, Barcelona can afford at least two of its three targeted players.

Despite Neymar’s  silence at making any pronouncement, either publicly or even privately to the FC Barcelona officials, it is clear, the Brazilian’s heart is no longer with the club.

He even stormed out of training in anger on Thursday after a burst-up with new comer, Nelson Semendo.

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French publication, RMC, reports that Neymar  has accepted the contract offer from Paris Saint-Germain, with only tax implications left to consider as the six-time French champions actively look to formally trigger a €222m release clause and cut Barcelona out of the negotiations.

The deal is more than double the world transfer record set by Manchester United last summer.

 

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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La Liga

Napkin used by Barcelona to sign Messi sold for nearly $1 million

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A signed and framed napkin on which soccer club Barcelona promised to sign a 13-year-old Lionel Messi is displayed at the Bonhams auction house in London, Britain May 8, 2024. REUTERS/Will Russell/File Photo

The napkin on which Barcelona promised to sign Lionel Messi when he was a 13-year-old has been sold for 762,400 pounds ($969,000, auction house Bonhams said on Friday.

The napkin was signed in December, 2000 by Barca’s former sporting director Carles Rexach and transfer advisor Josep Minguella along with Argentine agent Horacio Gaggioli over lunch at a tennis club.

Messi became one of Barcelona’s greatest players, winning over 30 trophies and leaving the Catalan club as their all-time leading scorer with 672 goals.

He also won a record eight Ballon d’Or awards for the world’s best player and led Argentina to the World Cup crown in 2022. Messi now plays for U.S. club Inter Miami in Major League Soccer.

“Yes, it’s a paper napkin, but it’s the famous napkin that was at the inception of Lionel Messi’s career,” Ian Ehling, the head of fine books and manuscripts at Bonhams New York, said in a statement.

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“It changed the life of Messi, the future of FC Barcelona, and was instrumental in giving some of the most glorious moments of football to billions of fans around the globe.”

-Reuters

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La Liga

Racially Abused Senegalese Goalkeeper Speaks Out After Abandoned Spanish Match –

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Racially Abused Senegalese Goalkeeper Speaks Out After Abandoned Spanish Match -

Senegalese goalkeeper Cheikh Sarr has heard racial slurs directed at him from the stands before, but when a fan allegedly approached just to racially insult him during a Spanish third-tier league game last Saturday, he decided he’d had enough.

“I grabbed him and asked why he was insulting me. My attitude was not aggressive, I just wanted to ask him why,” the 23-year-old told reporters on Tuesday of the incident in Sestao, a working-class town in northern Spain, which led to the game being abandoned.

“Other times it could be seen as something playful or a joke. However, this was not the case on Saturday, as it was something horrible and I could not stop myself. It was a very sad and ugly thing what they were saying,” he added.

The match between Sarr’s Rayo Majadahonda and Sestao River Club was suspended in the 84th minute after the altercation first led to Sarr being expelled by the referee, who was too far to hear the alleged insults, and then his team mates leaving the pitch in protest.

Racism in sport has been a hot topic in Spain, especially after Real Madrid’s Brazil winger Vinicius Jr, who has suffered from several incidents of racist abuse and is part of a campaign against racism, last year called LaLiga and Spain racist.

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On Saturday, he spoke out in support of those affected on social media again, citing “three despicable cases of racism” on that day alone, including Sarr’s.

Sevilla’s Argentina defender Marcos Acuna and coaching staff were also the target of “racist and xenophobic insults” from fans in a LaLiga game at Getafe, the club said.

Sarr said he was thankful that Vinicius had tagged him on social media showing support.

“If more players said no to racism like he does, they (racists) wouldn’t have the power they have now,” he said.

Reuters

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Sex-convict, Alves Spends First Day Of Provisional Freedom With All-night Party –

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Former Barcelona star, Brazilian Dani Alves, who was provisionally released from prison after over a year in prison celebrated his temporary reprieve with an all-night party.

Although his release from prison was temporary, after he was convicted and faces a 4-and-a-half-year prison sentence, Italian newspaper,  Corriere dello Sport reported that the Brazilian organized a noisy party to celebrate his father’s birthday.

The newspaper indicated that Alves held this party last Tuesday, and continued until five in the morning in the presence of family and friends, to celebrate his father on the one hand, and also to enjoy his freedom on the other hand after spending a long period behind bars.

The camera of the Spanish “Telefónico” network was following the steps of the legend of the oldest Brazilian player to participate in the World Cup, until he arrived at his home, located 25 minutes from downtown Barcelona.

The first thing Alves did after arriving at his home was to order a large amount of “burgers” for dinner, the first meal that the former right-back ate after his release from the “Brian 2” prison in Barcelona.

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According to several Spanish media outlets, Alves distributed his belongings  such as clothes and a small fan to the prisoners who had been by his side for more than 430 days,

Alves, 40, was accused of raping a woman in a nightclub, and was sentenced to 4 and a half years in prison last February, before a decision was issued for his conditional release

 

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