The Hard Tackle brings you a roundup of key stories regarding La Liga Champions FC Barcelona
Podolski Sale To Fund Aleix Vidal Transfer
According to a report in Italian outlet Calciomercato, Turkish Super Lig side Galatasaray will use the money acquired from the sale of Lucas Podolski to fund a move for Barcelona full-back Aleix Vidal in the upcoming transfer window.
The report states that Podolski will make the switch to Chinese side Guangzhou Evergrande in a deal worth €20 million. He has been in stellar form this season, getting 6 goals and 3 assists in 12 appearances, but the money on offer from China may prove to be too tempting.
Vidal’s nightmare season has been well documented and he has constantly been linked away from the Nou Camp. Despite being the only proper right-back in the squad, Luis Enrique has refused to play him regularly and he looks set to leave in search of regular minutes next month.
Valverde Emerges As Managerial Candidate
According to Spanish publication MARCA, Barcelona see Athletic Bilbao manager Ernesto Valverde as a possible replacement for Luis Enrique, whose future has been subject to a lot of speculation in recent weeks.
Enrique’s current contract runs until the end of the season and the 46-year-old has refused to discuss it before the end of the current campaign. In light of this, Barcelona have prepared a shortlist of the possible names that could take over as manager, should Enrique depart.
Valverde caught the eye of the Barcelona hierarchy after doing an impressive job as the manager of Athletic Bilbao. The 52-year-old has led them to the 4th, 7th and 5th positions in the past 3 seasons and last year, he helped them win the Supercopa de Espana.
It was their first major trophy in 31 years and it came with a victory against none other than Barcelona. Valverde has also spent 2 seasons at the Nou Camp as a player between 1988 and 1990, where he won the Copa Del Rey and the UEFA Cup Winner’s Cup.
He was also subject to interest from Real Madrid after they had sacked Rafa Benitez last season, but later opted to promote Zidane after Valverde signed a contract extension with Athletic, which also coincidentally runs out at the end of the current campaign.
Valverde’s familiarity with the club’s ethos and it’s fans would give him a boost over many other possible suitors and he is reportedly a popular figure in Catalonia. Having spent a number of years in the La Liga managing the likes of Valencia, Espanyol, Villareal and Atheltic Bilbao, a chance to take a step up in his career and manage one of it’s most powerful clubs may be too good an opportunity to pass up at this stage in his career.
Xavi Hails Real Madrid As A ‘Great Club’
The Barcelona and Spanish legend was full of praise for his once arch rivals Real Madrid, hailing their belief and calling them a ‘great club’, despite being frustrated at the result of the last El Clasico, where Zinedine Zidane’s side managed a last gasp draw.
According to MARCA, he said, “Real Madrid never stop believing. Historically, they are a club who have won it all, and will keep on winning because they are a great club. They are always going to put Barcelona under pressure.”
In Barcelona’s most recent clash against Real Madrid, the Blaugrana had almost sealed the victory before a last minute header from Los Blancos Captain Sergio Ramos. “They were insisting and pushing until the end – it was a fair result,” he said. That victory helped Real Madrid maintain their lead at the top of the La Liga table, but now find themselves only 3 points ahead of Barcelona with a game in hand against Sevilla.