Tagged in: Barcelona

Los Angeles Lakers again trade Marc Gasol to Memphis Grizzlies, who plan to waive veteran

The Los Angeles Lakers traded Marc Gasol, a 2024 second-round pick and cash ($250,000) to Memphis on Friday.

The Grizzlies plan to work on a waiver and release to let Gasol to stay in Spain with his family, sources told ESPN.

The Lakers will save approximately $10 million in salary and luxury tax and acquire the draft rights to Memphis’ Wang Zhelin. The Lakers have 13 guaranteed contracts before the beginning of training camp this month.

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After the tumult of the Orlando bubble in 2020 and the COVID-19 restrictions of the 2020-21 season, Gasol made a decision to remain with his family in Spain for the start of the 2021-22 season, sources said.

His professional career started in 2003 with FC Barcelona in Spain, and his NBA career started with Memphis in 2008.

It was a Lakers-Grizzlies trade before his rookie season that included his older brother, Pau, that set the stage for a successful 11-year run with the Grizzlies.

Gasol, 36, has won an NBA championship, won two Olympic silver medals, made three All-Star teams and earned an NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award and All-NBA first-team honors.

After the Lakers signed two former All-Star centers this summer — Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan — it appeared Gasol’s role would be increasingly limited.

Gasol had a $2.7 million deal for the 2021-22 season. The Lakers signed him to a two-year free-agent deal in 2020 after he spent a season-plus in Toronto Raptors, where he was part of a 2019 NBA championship team.

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Lionel Messi agrees Barcelona contract, accepts significant wage cut

Lionel Messi and Barcelona have reached an agreement for the forward to sign a new five-year deal with the Catalan club, sources have confirmed to ESPN. Sources added that Messi has accepted a significant wage cut to prolong his stay.

Messi was a free agent after his contract at Barca expired, and he had courted interest from Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City since first revealing a desire to end his 20-year relationship with Barca last summer. The 34-year-old’s previous contract, which was worth over €500 million ($594m) over four years, expired at the stroke of midnight on June 30.

However, with the return of Joan Laporta as president in March, Messi grew more open to staying at Camp Nou. An official announcement is expected in the coming days. Laporta had hoped to finalize an agreement before Messi’s previous terms expired. Barca’s financial problems made that impossible, though, with their gross debt over €1 billion. Cutbacks have been essential, in terms of transferring players out, reducing the wage bill and getting Messi to accept a lower salary.

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La Liga president Javier Tebas has warned Barca they will not be permitted to register Messi’s new deal if they are unable to reduce spending to comply with the league’s Financial Fair Play rules. Barca’s spending limit has been reduced from over €600m to €347m since the coronavirus pandemic, with further reductions expected to be imposed for the upcoming season.

Therefore, to register Messi’s new deal, in addition to new signings Sergio Aguero, Memphis Depay, Eric Garcia and Emerson Royal, Barca need to continue reducing the wage bill and moving players on. With that in mind, sources at the club refuse to rule out the departure of Antoine Griezmann, a €120m signing in 2019.

Messi is on holiday with his family after his Copa America triumph with Argentina last weekend, which was his first senior trophy with his national team.

He will link up with Ronald Koeman’s squad later in the summer, with Barca’s league campaign kicking off on Aug. 15 versus Real Sociedad at Camp Nou.

Messi had first expressed a desire to leave Barca last August after the 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League. His relationship with then-president Josep Maria Bartomeu had reached a breaking point.

In a September 2020 interview with Goal, after Barca had blocked his departure, Messi called Bartomeu a “liar” and said the board had been “making things up as they go along” and “plugging holes” for years.

Bartomeu, facing a vote of no confidence, resigned last October and was ultimately replaced by Laporta in March. Laporta has a good relationship with Messi and his family. He was Barca’s president when Messi made his first-team debut and when he signed his first professional contract with the club.

Sources told ESPN in April that Laporta was working on a contract renewal for Messi that included the option of playing in Major League Soccer before returning to Barcelona.

In public and in private, Laporta had always maintained that he was “convinced” he could persuade Messi to stay. The club have already made a series of signings this summer, bringing in Sergio Aguero, Memphis Depay and Eric Garcia, as well as recalling Emerson Royal.

Messi first joined Barca’s academy in 2000 and has gone on to play 778 games for the club, breaking Xavi Hernandez’s appearance record last season. He has scored 672 goals, another club record, and has helped Barca win, among other trophies, 10 La Liga titles and the Champions League on four occasions.

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Paris Saint-Germain beat Barcelona, Bayern Munich to Georginio Wijnaldum signing

Paris Saint-Germain have beaten Barcelona and Bayern Munich to the signing of Georginio Wijnaldum from Liverpool on a free transfer.

Wijnaldum, 30, has agreed a three-year deal with PSG after deciding to run down his contract at Anfield, which concludes at the end of June.

“Signing for Paris Saint-Germain is a new challenge for me,” Wijnaldum said. “I’m joining one of the best squads in Europe and I want to bring all my desire and commitment to this ambitious project. Paris Saint-Germain have proved how good they are in recent years and I am convinced that together, with our supporters, we can go even further and higher.”

The Netherlands international had previously reached an agreement to join Barca. His agents met with the Catalan club’s president Joan Laporta at the end of May and a medical had been penciled in.

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Barca’s interest in Wijnaldum dates back to last summer, when Ronald Koeman made him a target after being appointed as the club’s coach.

However, as first reported by ESPN on Friday, PSG made a late play to hijack Barca’s move for Wijnaldum.

Sources close to the negotiations told ESPN that the Ligue 1 side were willing to double the terms agreed with Barca, while a phone call from coach Mauricio Pochettino also helped persuade Wijnaldum to change his mind.

Bayern Munich also held talks with Wijnaldum, who informed the German club and Barca last weekend that he had decided to sign for PSG.

The midfielder becomes PSG’s first signing of the summer as they look to strengthen after missing out on the league title to Lille and a semifinal Champions League exit to Manchester City.

Wijnaldum, who is preparing for the European Championship with Netherlands, played for Feyenoord and PSV Eindhoven before making the move to England with Newcastle United in 2016 for around €15 million.

After Newcastle were relegated from the Premier League a year later, he joined Liverpool on a five-year deal for a fee of €25m.

He helped Liverpool collect the Champions League in 2019, famously scoring twice in the semifinal victory over Barca, and was part of the side which won the Premier League a year later.

During his five-year stay at Anfield, he also won the UEFA Super Cup and the Club World Cup. In total, he made 237 appearances for Liverpool, scoring 22 goals.

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Man City’s Guardiola: I won’t sleep ahead of Neymar, Mbappe meeting

Pep Guardiola stated he won’t sleep ahead of Manchester City’s Champions League semifinal with Paris Saint-Germain if he thinks too much about the threat posed by Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

City will come up versus PSG’s formidable forwards in the first leg in Paris on Wednesday and Guardiola said the pair are so good, they can give opposing managers restless nights.

“Always I believe the quality of these players, they have too much,” Guardiola told a news conference on Tuesday. “I tried to sleep well last night and that was when I was not thinking of them. Incredible top players, their quality. We are ready to try to stop them, defend as a team, play good football and try to score goals.”

Guardiola first faced Neymar when the Brazil forward was playing for Santos versus Barcelona in the Club World Cup in 2011.

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After joining Barcelona in 2013, Neymar moved on to PSG in 2017 but Guardiola said there would be more Champions League trophies in the Camp Nou trophy cabinet had he stayed.

“I remember against Santos, I said this was the king of Santos and all the players were open mouthed: ‘Oh my god, what a player,'” Guardiola added.

“A joy to watch as a spectator, he has Brazil on his shoulders, the No. 10, it’s not easy to wear.

“I’m pretty sure if he’d stayed in Barca they’d have won two or three more Champions Leagues. With Neymar, [Lionel] Messi and [Luis] Suarez, the best three I’ve seen.”

While the tie is only City’s second Champions League semifinal, PSG are trying to reach for the final for the second year in a row after narrowly losing out to Bayern Munich last campaign.

Since then, Thomas Tuchel has been replaced as manager with Mauricio Pochettino.

The former Tottenham boss has been able to get the best out of Neymar since he arrived in January, leading to speculation the 29-year-old is a candidate for the Ballon d’Or and is set to extend his contract.

“I have already talked about it [his contract],” Neymar told a news conference on Tuesday.

“It is not a topic now. I feel great. I am happy this season. It has been by far my happiest this season. “My main objective is the Champions League, not the Ballon d’Or. That is not a priority. I want to be a leader for my team. I want to win. In the future, I will want to remember I have managed to win the Champions League a few times.”

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Man City’s Aguero has Barcelona, PSG, Juventus as transfer options – sources

Sergio Aguero is considering interest from Juventus, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain after ruling out a return to club football in Argentina following confirmation of his exit from Manchester City this summer, sources have told ESPN.

The 32-year-old, who is the highest-scoring non-Englishman in Premier League history with 181 goals, will leave the Etihad at the end of the campaign after City confirmed on Monday that he would not be offered a new contract to replace his existing deal, which expires on June 30.

Aguero had previously stated that his ambition, at the end of his stay at City, was to return to Argentina to play for boyhood club Independiente. But sources have told ESPN that Aguero considers he can still perform at the top level in Europe for at least two more seasons and the forward is now ready to take advantage of his free agent status this summer to secure a move to one of the game’s top clubs.

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ESPN reported recently that Barca were monitoring Aguero’s situation at City amid concerns that Lionel Messi will leave Camp Nou at the end of this season.

PSG are also interested in the Argentina international, while Juve are another option with the Italian champions keen to plan for life without Cristiano Ronaldo in the event of the former Manchester United and Real Madrid forward leaving the Turin club at the end of the season.

Sources have told ESPN that Aguero is aware of interest from within the Premier League, but after 10 years in England, the player would prefer to move to Europe.

Having signed for City in a £35 million move from Atletico Madrid in 2011, Aguero has won four Premier League titles, five EFL Cup trophies and one FA Cup in his time at the club, with his winning goal, four minutes into stoppage time versus QPR in May 2012, sealing City’s first title in 44 years and becoming one of the most memorable moments in Premier League history.

But injuries, and a spell on the sidelines with COVID-19, have restricted Aguero to just four Premier League starts and one goal this season.

In total, he has made just 14 appearances in all competitions, scoring three goals. Aguero is now fit, however, and ready to contribute to City’s push for an unprecedented quadruple of Premier League, FA Cup, EFL Cup and Champions League this season.

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Catalan government gives go-ahead for 2021 Spanish GP

The government of Catalonia has given the go-ahead for Spanish Grand Prix organizers to agree a contract extension with Formula One for 2021.

The May 9 race at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya is listed as subject to contract on the sport’s record 23-round provisional calendar.

The regional government said in a statement it had authorized Circuits de Catalunya SL to sign the renewal. “The signature guarantees the celebration of the 31st consecutive edition of this event at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya,” it said.

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“The F1 Grand Prix is ​​an asset that contributes to Catalonia’s position in the world in the fields of tourism and automotive.”

The circuit agreed last year an extension to cover this year’s race, which was held in August and without spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic, after fears it would drop off the agenda.

Spain will have two drivers on the starting grid next season

With Carlos Sainz moving from McLaren to Ferrari while double world champion Fernando Alonso makes a comeback after two years out.

Alonso has returned to Renault, the team that took him to his titles in 2005 and 2006 and which is changing name to compete under the French manufacturer’s Alpine sportscar brand.

The 2021 campaign is due to start in Australia on March 21, although how that unfolds will depend on the state of the pandemic. There is also still a slot, vacated by Vietnam, to be filled on April 25.

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Cadiz shock Barcelona despite Lionel Messi’s return for the Catalans

Cadiz pulled off a shock 2-1 victory over Barcelona in La Liga on Saturday night, piling on to the mounting troubles for the Blaugrana in their domestic campaign this season.

Lionel Messi returned to Ronald Koeman’s starting XI after sitting out the midweek Champions League victory over Ferencvaros.

The hosts took a shock lead from a corner kick when Marc-Andre ter Stegen palmed the ball into the path of Alvaro Gimenez, who simply had to tap it into the net to make it 1-0.

The goal seemed to enliven Barca, who were firmly in control for the remainder of the half, but save for a near miss by Martin Braithwaite the visitors could not score and went into the half-time break trailing.

Koeman rang the changes at half-time in an attempt to spark his team, with Pedri replacing Oscar Mingueza and Ousmane Dembele coming on for Philippe Coutinho.

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Barca continued to dominate possession and drew level just before the hour mark when Messi played in Jordi Alba and his shot from a tight angle took a fortuitous deflection to beat Cadiz keeper Jeremias Ledesma.

However, Cadiz took the lead again minutes later when a miscommunication between Clement Lenglet and Ter Stegen following a throw in left Alvaro Negredo alone for a simple tap in to Barcelona’s open net.

Barca poured on the pressure down the stretch and Messi saw two good possibilities go right to Ledesma, but Cadiz were up to the task and saw out the match to take all three points and stay ahead of the Catalans in La Liga.

The victory was Cadiz’s first over Barcelona since 1991 and put them just outside the Champions League places in the table.

The Andalusians also beat champions Real Madrid 1-0 away from home earlier in the campaign.

Barca’s fourth defeat of the season left them seventh in the standings on 14 points after 10 matches and Koeman’s side have failed to win their last four away matches.

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Rakitic leaves Barca to rejoin Sevilla

Ivan Rakitic is set to become the first big name player to leave Barcelona this summer and will re-sign for old club Sevilla.

The Croatian was one of numerous Barca stars who were told they were not part of new manager Ronald Koeman’s plans moving forward at the Nou Camp.

The midfielder has agreed a two-year deal with Sevilla, with an option for a third, and will take a significant pay cut as a result, according to Goal.

Rakitic will earn £2.7million-per-year at Sevilla which is a huge decrease from the £7million he earned during his last term with Barcelona.

The 32-year-old spent three seasons with Sevilla and won the Europa League in the 2013/14 season right before he made his big switch to the Catalan club in 2014.

His return has been agreed in principle by the two clubs, who have agreed a nominal fee for now.

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Rakitic has been one of the few Barcelona stars who have been linked with moves away for quite some time.

The midfielder was attracting interest from Serie A clubs back in January, as well as being linked with Manchester United, but no move was finalized.

Whilst he has always spoken on his love for Sevilla, he had said earlier in the transfer window that he would remain at Barca for one more season to see out his contract.

However, new boss Koeman has had other plans as the LaLiga giants have descended into chaos over recent weeks with Luis Suarez, Arturo Vidal and others all told they are no longer wanted.

Lionel Messi has also not been reporting to training and testing as his feud with Koeman rumbles on amid rumours of a staggering transfer to Manchester City. Sevilla have also managed to get business done elsewhere, as they confirmed the signing of goalkeeper Yassine Bono on a permanent basis from Girona for £3.6million.

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Arthur wants to stay, Barca open to offers

Over the last few days, Arthur’s name has been linked with several moves away from the Camp Nou. The Barça midfielder is a wanted man across Europe but, according to Esporte Interativo, he’s let the club know he wants to stay and isn’t interested in a transfer elsewhere.

RAC1 claimed Barça and Juventus were in talks over a potential swap deal involving Arthur. That report stated the Italian giants had offered Pjanic in exchange and it was being considered by the sporting department. Another name linked with Barça is Tottenham Hotspur’s Tanguy Ndombele and the North London side would be open to a swap deal too.

As reported by Goal, initial discussions have taken place between the two clubs, with Juve keen on signing the 23-year-old midfielder, potentially in a swap deal that could include Miralem Pjanic.

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Maurizio Sarri is a fan of the Brazil international and is aiming to sign a midfielder when the transfer window reopens, albeit with Paul Pogba being at the top of the Serie A club’s wishlist.

Arthur has made 67 appearances in all competitions for Barca since joining the club from Gremio back in 2018 and is considered an important member of Quique Setien’s first-team squad.

He has also claimed 20 caps for Brazil and was part of the Copa America-winning side that defeated Peru in the 2019 final, with Arthur’s performances seeing him named in the team of the tournament.

While the former Gremio star is keen to remain at Camp Nou, the future of Philippe Coutinho is somewhat more uncertain.

Barca remain hopeful of offloading the 27-year-old, who is currently on loan at Bayern Munich, in the summer and have offered him to Premier League clubs in the hope of finding a buyer.

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Barcelona set for big exits due to virus

Lionel Messi, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Frenkie de Jong are the only players safe at Barcelona this summer as the Catalan club predict less spending and more player exchanges as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, sources have told ESPN.

Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu insisted last month that the club would still be “capable” of landing the game’s best players, but he warned deals could be organized in a very different way after the crisis.

“There is not going to be as much money in the transfer market because of the pandemic,” Bartomeu said. “But I predict that we are going to see a lot more swap deals.”

Barcelona have already committed to two transfers that will be completed in the summer. Forward Francisco Trincao will move to Camp Nou from Braga in a €30 million deal and Las Palmas midfielder Pedri will join for an initial €5m.

However, sources have told ESPN that the club continues to target another attacker and an internal debate has developed over whether it will still be possible to sign Lautaro Martinez or Neymar — or even both — when the window opens.

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There is also a wish to sign a right-back, a centre-back to replace Gerard Pique in the long term and a physical midfielder.

Inter striker Lautaro has a release clause of €111m that becomes active in the first two weeks of July. However, sources say Barca have “no intention” of paying that much. There have already been several meetings with the Serie A side and the possibility of including players to lower the price has been discussed.

Neymar remains Barca’s other big target. A year ago, Barca offered PSG several combinations of cash plus players, with Philippe Coutinho, Ivan Rakitic, Samuel Umtiti, Jean-Clair Todibo and Ousmane Dembele all put forward. PSG rejected the proposals then, but Barca hope they will change their stance this summer with Neymar’s deal up in 2022 and the possibility of the player invoking Article 17 to force an exit unilaterally.

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