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Category: Barcelona

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La Liga preview: Neymar’s exit gives Real Madrid another advantage in title race

Zinedine Zidane’s team are the favourites to win the league after the Brazilian’s move to Paris St-Germain and their impressive showing in the Super Cup finals

On a hot summer’s day, a rather dapper looking gentleman in a dicky bow and a panama hat, handkerchief neatly folded into his breast pocket, dashed across the country carrying €222m in a briefcase. Chased by cameras, clock ticking, Benny Hill theme going around more than one mind while the script for some comedy gangster flick briefly formed in others, Juan de Dios Crespo arrived in Madrid first. He rolled up late morning only to find that giving away loads of money wasn’t quite as easy as he had hoped. Luckily, as it turned out it wasn’t quite so difficult as he feared either.

The cheque that he had with him had of course been provided by Paris Saint-Germain, which is to say by Qatar. It was his job to pay the buy-out clause that would unilaterally release Neymar from Barcelona and allow the Brazilian to head to “a new challenge” in France instead. At 11.15, De Dios Crespo – a lawyer who once defended Leo Messi, succeeding in getting a four-match international ban reduced – walked into the league’s HQ carrying the money; at 11.30 he walked out again still carrying it. As the president Javier Tebas had promised, the LFP refused to accept payment. So off he went again.

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Gerard Piqué feels ‘inferior’ to Real Madrid for first time as Barcelona player

• ‘It is the first time I feel inferior to Madrid’ says Barça defender
• Piqué joined Barcelona from Manchester United for £5m in 2008

Gerard Piqué admitted he felt “inferior” to Real Madrid for the first time in his nine years as a Barcelona defender, after they were beaten 5-1 on aggregate in the Spanish Super Cup. A 2-0 defeat at the Bernabéu on Wednesday night saw Barcelona humiliated by their rivals, with Sergio Ramos winding up Lionel Messi by throwing the ball over him after the Argentine readied his hands to collect.

Related: Asensio stunner helps Real Madrid brush aside Barça for Super Cup success

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Asensio stunner helps Real Madrid brush aside Barça for Super Cup success

• Real Madrid 2-0 Barcelona (agg: 5-1); Asensio 4, Benzema 39
• Rivals pile on the misery for Barcelona

The second leg of the Spanish Super Cup was only four minutes old when a smile stretched across Zinedine Zidane’s face. Real Madrid had just taken the lead, Marco Asensio’s wonderful 35-yard effort dipping past Marc-André ter Stegen, but Zidane did not leap into the air, clench his fists or scream; it was just that smile, appearing easily, almost gently, as if he was not just enjoying this – he had expected it. Already 1-0 on the night, it was 4-1 on aggregate and his team were on course to win the seventh title they have collected in only 18 months under him.

By the end, it was 2-0, 5-1 on aggregate, after Karim Benzema added a second past the half-hour. Madrid had the victory, the title and the promise of more, too. Past 1am they paraded the trophy and if the silverware was something to celebrate, the sense of security was another. Such a contrast to Barcelona, who stood and watched them collect it, well beaten. Maybe that had been expressed best in Zidane’s smile. The opening goal had the ingredients to be a surprise but did not feel like one, somehow.

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Asensio stunner helps Real Madrid brush aside Barça for Super Cup success

• Real Madrid 2-0 Barcelona (agg: 5-1); Asensio 4, Benzema 39
• Rivals pile on the misery for Barcelona

The second leg of the Spanish Super Cup was only four minutes old when a smile stretched across Zinedine Zidane’s face. Real Madrid had just taken the lead, Marco Asensio’s wonderful 35-yard effort dipping past Marc-André ter Stegen, but Zidane did not leap into the air, clench his fists or scream; it was just that smile, appearing easily, almost gently, as if he was not just enjoying this – he had expected it. Already 1-0 on the night, it was 4-1 on aggregate and his team were on course to win the seventh title they have collected in only 18 months under him.

By the end, it was 2-0, 5-1 on aggregate, after Karim Benzema added a second past the half-hour. Madrid had the victory, the title and the promise of more, too. Past 1am they paraded the trophy and if the silverware was something to celebrate, the sense of security was another. Such a contrast to Barcelona, who stood and watched them collect it, well beaten. Maybe that had been expressed best in Zidane’s smile. The opening goal had the ingredients to be a surprise but did not feel like one, somehow.

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Real Madrid v Barcelona: Spanish Super Cup, second leg – live!

9.16pm BST

Your teams tonight, courtesy of footballing minnows Barcelona FC (they have their own Twitter account! Whatever next?):

#FCB XI
1. Ter Stegen
3. Piqué
4. Rakitic
5. Sergio
9. Suárez
10. Messi
14. Mascherano
18. Alba
20. S. Roberto
21. André Gomes
23. Umtiti

Real Madrid XI: Keylor, Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo, Kovacic, Kroos, Modric, Asensio, Benzema and Lucas Vázquez #ElClásico

8.01pm BST

Tom will be here shortly. In the meantime, why not find out what Cristiano Ronaldo is unhappy about:

Cristiano Ronaldo has called his five-match ban for pushing a referee “exaggerated and ridiculous” and claims he is being persecuted after failing to have the sanction overturned on appeal.

During Sunday night’s Spanish Super Cup 3-1 first-leg victory over Barcelona, in which he had scored, Real Madrid forward Ronaldo reacted badly after being shown a second yellow for diving by match official Ricardo de Burgos Bengoetxea, shoving the referee in the back.

Related: ‘This is what you call persecution’: Ronaldo hits out over five-match ban

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‘This is what you call persecution’: Ronaldo hits out over five-match ban

• Real Madrid forward’s appeal against five-match ban rejected
• ‘It’s impossible to stay quiet in this situation, five matches!’

Cristiano Ronaldo has called his five-match ban for pushing a referee “exaggerated and ridiculous” and claims he is being persecuted after failing to have the sanction overturned on appeal.

During Sunday night’s Spanish Super Cup 3-1 first-leg victory over Barcelona, in which he had scored, Real Madrid forward Ronaldo reacted badly after being shown a second yellow for diving by match official Ricardo de Burgos Bengoetxea, shoving the referee in the back.

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How Paulinho turned his career around to earn a dream move to Barcelona | John Duerden

The former Spurs midfielder has been the best player in China for 18 months – better than Teixeira, Ramires, Lavezzi and Oscar – and deserves his chance at Barça

April 2017: Paulinho had messed up. There was the Brazilian in China advertising a betting site alongside a Japanese porn star. His club, Guangzhou Evergrande, were unhappy about being kept in the dark about such controversial activities and there was even wild talk of deportation. It was one of the few mistakes he would make in Asia.

Not even the most committed gambler in south China or north London would have bet back in June 2015, when the midfielder signed for Guangzhou from Tottenham, that he would be heading back west two years and two months later to join Barcelona. After all, the midfielder had been declared a flop in England after two underwhelming seasons with Spurs from 2013-15. So bad had it become, with three starts in his second campaign, that his next destination was China to join his former Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari. We all know the reputation that the Chinese Super League has in Europe. The big names have arrived but the respect has not. Those who go there do so for the money.

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Cristiano Ronaldo handed five-match ban after red card against Barcelona

• Real Madrid forward was sent off in first leg of Supercopa on Sunday
• Ronaldo also fined €3000 for pushing the referee

The Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo has been given a five-game ban following his red card in Monday night’s Supercopa first-leg victory over Barcelona, the Spanish football federation has announced.

The Portuguese forward reacted angrily to being dismissed during the second half of a 3-1 victory for Zinedine Zidane’s side, pushing the referee Ricardo de Burgos Bengoetxea as he left the field.

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Liverpool register interest in signing Nice midfielder Jean Michaël Seri

• Ivory Coast midfielder wanted as alternative to Naby Keïta
• Seri has also been tracked by Barcelona, Arsenal and PSG

Liverpool have expressed an interest in signing Jean Michaël Seri from Nice as Jürgen Klopp searches for midfield alternatives to Naby Keïta.

The Ivory Coast midfielder has been tracked by several Premier League clubs this summer including Arsenal, Everton. Tottenham and Swansea after excelling in Nice’s third-place finish in Ligue 1 last season. The 25-year-old has also been scouted by Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona, who sent scouts to watch him in action in Friday’s home defeat against Troyes.

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Cristiano Ronaldo scores and is sent off in win over Barcelona

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a sensational goal and was then sent off for a combination of his provocative celebration and for diving as Real Madrid beat Barcelona 3-1 in an explosive Spanish Super Cup first leg.

Gerard Piqué scored an own goal early in the second half to give Real the lead in the annual curtain raiser between the Liga champions and the King’s Cup holders although Lionel Messi looked to have saved his blushes by scoring a controversial penalty in the 77th minute after Luis Suárez was fouled.

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Barcelona v Real Madrid: Spanish Super Cup, first leg – live!

9.35pm BST

33 min A classic through pass from Iniesta finds Alba, who crosses low first time towards Messi at the near post. The alert Kovacic slides in to concede a corner.

9.33pm BST

32 min Suarez tries to run the last man Varane, who deals smoothly and calmly with the danger. France have a disgusting amount of young talent, don’t they.

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Jürgen Klopp says Philippe Coutinho’s Liverpool future is out of his hands

• Manager says his ‘bosses’ have the final say over players leaving and arriving
• Brazilian has submitted a transfer request but Liverpool want him to stay

Jürgen Klopp has made it clear that any decision about Philippe Coutinho leaving Liverpool is out of his hands, with the manager claiming his “bosses” have the final say on any players going in or out of the club.

Coutinho is desperate to join Barcelona and the Brazilian submitted a transfer request on Friday to try to force the move through, yet Liverpool remain adamant he will stay.

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Borussia Dortmund reject Barcelona’s €100m offer for Ousmane Dembélé

• Peter Bosz says 20-year-old forward did not attend session on Thursday
• Reports in France state Dembélé will fly to Barcelona ‘in coming hours’

Borussia Dortmund have rejected Barcelona’s opening offer for Ousmane Dembélé and have insisted the France forward is “unlikely” to complete a transfer to Spain unless they receive an improved offer.

Dortmund manager Peter Bosz revealed that Dembélé missed a training session without permission on Thursday, with reports in France and Germany suggesting the 20-year-old is on the verge of moving to Barcelona. However, a statement from the German club confirmed that the offer from Barça – understood to be €100m – had been rejected.

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Liverpool’s Jürgen Klopp: we will not sell Philippe Coutinho at any price

• Manager insists Brazil playmaker will not be allowed to join Barcelona
• ‘Liverpool is not a club that has to sell players. That is set in stone’

Jürgen Klopp has insisted Liverpool will not accept any bids for Philippe Coutinho after the club rejected an improved £90m offer for the Brazil playmaker.

Barça returned with their latest bid for the 25-year-old on Wednesday having had an offer of €80m (£72m) rejected last month and, speaking to Sky Germany, Klopp was adamant that Liverpool are committed to retaining their best players.

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Liverpool reject £90m Barcelona bid for Philippe Coutinho

• Barcelona make second offer, comprising €85m plus €15m in add-ons
• Liverpool again insist their Brazil playmaker is not for sale

Liverpool have again told Barcelona that Philippe Coutinho is not for sale after rejecting a €100m (£90m) bid for the Brazil midfielder. Barcelona’s second offer, comprising €85m plus €15m in add-ons, was immediately rejected.

Barça returned with their latest bid for the 25-year-old on Wednesday having had an offer of €80m (£72m) rejected last month. It was met with the same response. Liverpool rejected the offer, reiterated to Barcelona they will not consider selling their influential playmaker this summer and, despite reports in Spain that a deal is imminent, consider the matter closed.

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Mexico captain Rafael Márquez sanctioned over alleged drug ties

  • Former Barcelona defender one of 22 people punished
  • Move comes after investigation into drug trafficking organisation

The Mexico football captain Rafael Márquez is among 22 people sanctioned for alleged ties to a drug trafficking organization, the United States Treasury announced Wednesday.

The Treasury said in a statement that it will also sanction 43 entities in Mexico, including a football team and casino. The sanctions are the result of a multi-year investigation of the drug trafficking organization allegedly headed by Raul Flores Hernandez.

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Liverpool remain a selling club and face challenge in convincing Coutinho to stay | Paul Wilson

Barcelona want the Brazilian to follow Luis Suárez to Barcelona, leaving Jürgen Klopp with a potential hole in his team just as the season is about to start

An unhappy transfer window for Liverpool has every chance of becoming grimmer still should Philippe Coutinho make a £100m-plus move to Barcelona, and though some well-rehearsed arguments are being heard from both sides over whether the club should make a stand or accept the inevitable, there is an unpalatable truth beneath all the posturing that is not being shouted so loudly.

This is, simply and briefly, that Liverpool are a selling club. They might not see themselves that way, they might keep denying it and taking encouragement from Jürgen Klopp insisting that no means no, but Liverpool simply have to be a selling club because they have not won a title in over a quarter of a century and are now only occasional participants in the Champions League.

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Throwing moolah in the air like it’s rice at a wedding | The Fiver

In today’s Fiver: Ousmane Dembélé, League One Pep talk, an excruciating unveiling and #kingsofthejungle

The Fiver is not known for breaking big stories. The only scoop we’re familiar with is Fatman, the only sources we try to track down are that of the smell coming from our fridge and our only inside info is that the rumours are true that The Man at Fiver Towers definitely likes to t[snip! – Fiver Self-Preservation Team]. But we have a big one for you today: oh it’s a whopper. It’s huge news. The story of the century. We’re here to tell you that Ousmane Dembélé, Borussia Dortmund flyer and youngster du jour, recently changed the biographical section on his social media feeds from reading ‘BVB #7’ to simply ‘#7’. We know. Colossal stuff. The reverberations from this revelation will surely be felt for years to come.

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Barcelona told they must pay £135m for Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembélé

• France forward wanted as replacement for Neymar
• Dortmund adamant they do not want to sell Dembélé

Borussia Dortmund have told Barcelona that they will not consider selling Ousmane Dembélé for less than €150m (£135m) as they continue to search for a replacement for Neymar.

After Dortmund’s chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke indicated earlier this week that they would reject an opening bid worth around €100m (£90.2m), a Barça delegation travelled to Germany on Tuesday to continue negotiations. However, the German side – who purchased the France forward last summer for just €15m and has four years remaining on his current contract – remain adamant that they do not want to sell the 20-year-old who scored six goals in his debut season in the Bundesliga.

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Liverpool determined to keep Philippe Coutinho even if Barcelona offer £100m

• Barça willing to make Coutinho second most expensive player in history
• Reports in Spain claim Barcelona hope to conclude a deal by Tuesday

Liverpool’s determination to keep Philippe Coutinho has not altered despite indications Barcelona are prepared to pay £100m for the Brazil international.

Barcelona had a £72m offer for Liverpool’s influential playmaker rejected over a fortnight ago and, now flush with £200m from the world-record transfer of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain, are pursuing their interest in the 25-year-old.

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