Allow them to save money on eye-watering transfer fees for the top foreign players. Step forward Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele, Barca’s two most expensive players, who have both struggled to pay back even a small portion of their transfer fees. Coutinho will be harder to accommodate, especially with so many options elsewhere in midfield, but Joan Laporta will be grateful to Xavi if he can find a place for the Brazilian or at the very least restore his value to allow them to sell him on and recover some of the money they invested in him. Pedri is in good company in midfield, where 17-year-old Gavi has quickly established himself as a regular starter in his first season and also broken into the Spain team. Xavi hoisted the Champions League four times as a Barca player but he takes over a team that has had a nightmare of a time in recent years in Europe’s top competition. There he was — as he has been so many times — to smash home after his header was rebounded back to him by Jesse Lingard. Real Betis have arguably the most passionate fans in LaLiga but they were brought to their knees by this sublime display in a 4-1 win for Barca in March 2019. Messi had already scored two goals but his hat-trick strike, a subtle first-time lob, elevated his performance to a new level and the home fans responded by chanting his name, applauding him and bowing down to him.
Dembele, meanwhile, signed for a fee totalling £135.5million from Borussia Dortmund in 2017 but has seen his career in Catalonia blighted by a horrible run of injuries, forcing him to have two operations on a ruptured hamstring and surgery to treat knee ligament damage in June. After leaving boyhood club Everton for Manchester United in 2003, Rooney went on to have a sensational career and became the record goalscorer for the England national team and for the Red Devils. Ultimately sold to Everton in 2014 for £28m with no apparent path to the Chelsea first team available. His presence on the pitch does not give serenity to the rest of the team. Now Allegri will have to try and manage him better and try to give him more and more confidence. Only time will tell whether Xavi can bring success to Barca, but one certainty is the days of pumping long balls into the box and looking for second balls are over.
Xavi was on the pitch when Barca made history in a 2012 match against Levante by fielding 11 players who had all come through the academy. Serie A represents a very strong stress test that risks compromising the harmonic growth of one of the strongest Under 23 players in the world. Having concluded that signing Harry Kane from fierce London rivals Tottenham would be too difficult and having heard that Romelu Lukaku wants to remain at Inter Milan, Chelsea will test Dortmund’s resolve over Haaland. Mattia Perin is ready to replace him but Allegri has already confirmed that Szczesny will play against Malmo in the Champions League on Tuesday night. Szczesny did everything he could do wrong, that’s enough. The club may have been badly hit by the drop in tourism to Barcelona due to Covid, but there are more than enough fans in the city and across Spain to plug the gaps. And as the puppet master of the greatest Barcelona side of all-time, no-one is better qualified than Xavi to get the team playing their renowned style of play again. He played for Santos until 2013 before he was lured away from his homeland by the might of Barcelona.
Borussia Dortmund won the race for his signature in 2013 and he then went on to play for Manchester United but failed to produce his best and was shipped out to Arsenal two years later. He will be 27 in December and the chances will start to run out if he is unable to make the most of the good form he has shown since the restart. He will now have to work hard to erase the big mistake that sentenced juventus jersey 2022 to an undeserved defeat. While Barca have never quite had the passionate fan base as some of Europe’s top sides, there can be no question that the club has a serious problem right now with fan apathy. Until a few weeks ago, De Ligt was the irreplaceable player in the Dutch defence and for Juventus — but not now. Only four years ago Matthijs de Ligt was considered the greatest defender in the world. De Ligt continues to be clumsy and isn’t trusted by Holland coach Louis van Gaal or Allegri, who left him on the bench even for a big match against Napoli. Having made next to no impact in the Premier League during a torrid season with Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United, ronaldo juventus jersey Falcao thought he could exorcise those demons with Chelsea.
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