Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Neymar trident will strengthen in second Barcelona season


Luis Enrique is very fortunate to have arguably the most spectacular attacking trident in over 115 years of Barcelona history at his disposal. While the Catalans' much-improved defensive stability also played a considerable part, it is clear that the historical Champions League, Liga and Copa del Rey treble achieved last season would have been impossible without difference-makers Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar.

Undoubtedly, Messi is the most talented footballer to ever wear the Barcelona shirt. His exquisite technique, mesmerising dribbling skills, unique peripheral vision when looking for passing options and cold-blooded attitude in front of goal make him the player every football fan on the planet dreams of having in their team.


The quadruple Ballon d'Or winner is, deservedly, the main reference up front at Barcelona. Having the freedom to roam around the team's final third in whichever way he sees fit enables him to identify, then exploit, spaces with ease, leaving rivals wondering if there is any point in spending countless hours in training trying to predict the diminutive Argentinean's movements.



READ the full "Messi, Suarez, Neymar trident to strengthen in second Barcelona season" column by Francesc Tomas for ESPN here.

Now, it's your turn


Is the MSN trident the best attacking partnership in the history of Barcelona? What is the secret to their chemistry both on and off the field? I'd love to hear your views. Share your comments with our community in the box below.

Ivan Rakitic: Barcelona's humble yet ambitious midfield leader

Ivan Rakitic A humble yet ambitious leader for Barcelona

Ivan Rakitic was instrumental to Barcelona's success in his first season at the Camp Nou. If the Catalans were able to win their record second treble of Champions League, Liga and Copa del Rey, the Croatian international certainly played a decisive role he should be very proud of.

Under the watchful eye of Luis Enrique, Rakitic became a regular starter alongside the very talented Andres Iniesta and the ever-improving Sergio Busquets. His importance was clear all season, but scoring the opener in the Champions League final definitely cemented his place in Barcelona history.

Now on his second season at the Camp Nou, it is expected that the former Sevilla captain continues his progression, helping Barcelona reach even higher goals in the near future.

Here are Rakitic's views regarding the season ahead:


"The idea of the sextuple fills me with awe because only a few of my teammates have won one. It had never been done before then. We don't feel under pressure, but we know it's going to be very difficult.

"The UEFA Super Cup against Sevilla? It's a trophy up for grabs, I know where I am and I'm going to fight the utmost for Barcelona. I would have liked Sevilla to win it if we weren't in it, though."

Ivan Rakitic A humble yet ambitious leader for Barcelona

"Life is easier when you have Lionel Messi. Every team would love to have Leo, but luckily we've got him and we're going to look after him. He does things that no one else can. And, if we can make him even better, then that's great."

"I enjoy having Messi, Suárez and Neymar ahead of me. Although a lot of people say that it's easy to play with them and that's rubbish. They are on another level and we play for them because they have earned it, but that doesn't mean it's easy. You have to get used to doing work on their behalf, and if I have to run 5,000 kilometres so that one of them can have his moment, that's fine by me."

Now, it's your turn


What makes Rakitic a regular starter despite competition from Iniesta, Turan, Rafinha, Vidal or Sergi Roberto? Did you expect Rakitic to perform at such a high level when he signed from Sevilla? 


Barcelona 2-2 (2-4) Chelsea | Video, Goals, Highlights, Stats, Ratings, Reaction


Barcelona lost to Chelsea (2-2, then 2-4 on penalties) in their third match of the International Champions Cup. Luis Suarez and Sandro Ramirez scored the goals for the Blaugrana, who enjoyed 66 percent of possession, created 18 goal-scoring chances and attempted 11 shots, six of them on target.

Player Ratings:


Ter Stegen (7); Douglas (3) , Bartra (5), Mathieu (5), Adriano (5); Rakitic (6), Busquets (5), Gumbau (5); Munir (7), Suárez (8), Sandro (8).

Subsitutes: Masip,(4); Sergi Roberto (7) , Piqué (6), Vermaelen (6), Jordi Alba (6); Iniesta (6), Rafinha (7), Samper (6); Halilovic (6), Pedro (7)

Match Stats:



Full Match:




Goals and Highlights:




Reaction:


Luis Enrique only had words of praise for his players: "Against Chelsea we showed we could come back after going behind and I liked the team. It has been a more physically demanding game than usual after 10 days on tour. I like the team. We overcame an early goal against and even there were a little slack in some areas of the game, we turned it around. The only bad news is the injury to Douglas. Any kind of injury is always sad news."

"Physically Sergi Roberto is very strong, he is fit as you like, gets up and down and has quality. It’s another option. You have to remember that a full back at Barça is almost like a midfielder.”

“Before this game we had only conceded three corners and conceded two goals. Last season we improved a lot in that aspect of the game, but this one it will a sore point. We are not a tall team. Even so, I prefer to have the kind of players who control the game than tall players for the ball in the air but don’t control the game.”


Andres Iniesta was keen to highlight the positives: “There are positive things and others to improve, like at the start of every season. We are still trying to prepare ourselves as best we can through training sessions and matches and, beyond results, I think we have to be positive. Once home, we will keep preparing for what’s coming, which is important.”

“We have been training 20 days, and everything has to be speeded up because competitive matches are coming so that’s what we are doing. The European Super Cup is in two weeks time, everything is preparation, but when you are in the competitive stage, you want to come into in the best shape possible with everyone fit."

Now, it's your turn:


Are you worried about Barcelona failing to win their last two matches? Which player is impressing you the most/least in preseason?

Arda Turan can battle Andres Iniesta, Ivan Rakitic for starting berth at Barcelona

Arda Turan can battle Andres Iniesta, Ivan Rakitic for starting berth at Barcelona

Signing a midfielder who much of the football world feel falls into that much-vaunted category of 'world class' status would normally bring universal approval among supporters of the star’s new club.

The €34-million euro signing of Arda Turan from Atletico Madrid though seems to have Barcelona fans slightly divided. On the one hand the majority of supporters believe they have acquired a fine technical midfield player to further bolster their midfield options especially now club icon Xavi has moved on. Others, while appreciating the talents of the Turk seem to be wondering what role Turan will play at the Camp Nou once he is eligible to make his debut in January.


One of the main questions being raised among these fans seems to be what position Turan, who has signed on a five-year deal at the club, will occupy. Turan is undoubtedly a midfielder suited to a more attacking role and has recently expressed his resentment at having to do so much running and defensive work under previous coach Diego Simeone. Turan has done everything asked of him over the past few seasons though and his contributions for the Madrid side were a major factor in Atletico winning the title in 2014.

The 28-year-old undoubtedly has a fight on his hands to break into a Barca side that conquered all before them last season. There aren't too many places up for grabs in the starting eleven. Sergio Busquets will not find his place threatened as he is the defensive lynchpin and an integral part of the side. Even if Busquets were to be injured or suspended head coach Luis Enrique would likely move Javier Mascherano forward from centre-back as cover for the Spanish international.

The chances of the devastatingly prolific front three of Neymar, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez being broken up are virtually nil. The astonishing success and cohesion of the South American trio means that Enrique is highly unlikely to change the 4-3-3 formation which secured the historic treble for Barca last term.

Arda Turan can battle Andres Iniesta, Ivan Rakitic for starting berth at Barcelona

So realistically that leaves just two positions for Turan contend for - those of La Masia graduate Andres Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic. The signing of the Croatian international last season was a proved to be a resounding success and the Croatian provides decisive passing, a goal threat from range, and a work rate and discipline that both Barca fans and Enrique are very appreciative of. The former Sevilla skipper's role doesn't appear to be up immediately at threat.

So that just leaves the position of club legend Iniesta. Turan and the Spanish international share several similar playing characteristics. Both are superb technicians with the ball at their feet whilst using their outstanding skill to glide past players and both are able to thread balls through the tightest of spaces.

One area where both are also similar is in terms of goalscoring - or rather their relative lack of goalscoring. For all their attacking guile, neither is prolific in front of goal with Turan scoring twelve over the last two seasons and Iniesta just six. 


Any knowledgeable football fan will know however that the style of play produced by the pair is more than just about goals. Besides when you have Messi, Suarez and Neymar ahead of you, a requirement to contribute in that area isn't quite so urgent.

Whether Enrique signed Turan as an eventual replacement or as a backup for Iniesta is open to interpretation. Iniesta is now 31 and performed far from his best for large parts of last season but was seemingly back to his brilliant best towards the end of a momentous campaign for the club.

The other big question mark hanging over the signing has been the timing of the deal. With the Barcelona transfer embargo not lifted until January, it means the Turkey captain will not be able to play until halfway through the season.

Having your £25 million signing not play for six months may not seem ideal on the face of it. 

Arda Turan can battle Andres Iniesta, Ivan Rakitic for starting berth at Barcelona

However, Turan will enter the season at one of it's most intense periods when Barca should be fighting on all fronts trophy wise. Injuries, fatigue and loss of form will likely start to affect the squad eventually, and a fit and eager Turan may be just what the team needs if they are struggling in any of these departments.

Turan may well go on to replace Iniesta or Rakitic as first choice in the future but first he will have to prove that he fit into the unique style Barca deploy in order to be a success at the Camp Nou. Until then it's not exactly a bad trio to have to choose from for Enrique.

All in all the positives of Turan's arrival should far outweigh the negatives.

Published by Aaron Attwood, columnist at Barcablog. Follow him on Twitter @ajattwood

Now, it's your turn:


Can Arda Turan become a regular starter ahead of Andres Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic? Would you sell or loan Rafinha and Sergi Roberto once Arda Turan is available for selection?

Barcelona should prioritise La Masia to signing Gerson from Fluminese

Barcelona should prioritise La Masia to signing Gerson from Fluminese

Gerson Santos da Silva is tantalisingly close to being transferred to Barcelona for a reported figure in the region of €15-20 million. The U-20 Brazil international, who has excelled at Fluminese, has repeatedly ignored offers from major European clubs as his first priority is to continue his career at the Camp Nou.

Gerson made his professional debut a mere six months ago but, in that time, he has shown an unusual level of maturity and impressed teammates, coaches and supporters alike with his accurate passing, exquisite dribbling skills and ability to score from long-range positions.

Barcelona should prioritise La Masia to signing Gerson from Fluminese

An unusually intelligent player, Gerson is considered the most promising prospect to burst into the Fluminese first team in recent years. Having already conquered several trophies for La Tricolor Carioca at youth level, making the final step into professional football came as the natural next step for the talented youngster.

READ the full "Gerson transfer to Barcelona would aggravate La Masia decline" column by Francesc Tomas for Weloba here.


Should Barcelona invest €15-20 million on Gerson? 


Are the current La Masia youngsters talented enough to make the first team? I'd love to hear your views. Share your comments with our community in the box below.

Aaron Ramsay to Barcelona link is utter nonsense

Aaron-Ramsay-Barcelona-Arsenal-Arsene-Wenger-utter-nonsense

Aaron Ramsay, Arsenal and Wales midfielder, explained: “Obviously it’s very flattering. Barcelona did the treble last year and it’s just really nice to be linked with one of the best clubs in the world. One day I would like to go over to Spain to play just to see what it’s like and to experience that. But at the moment I’m with Arsenal and I feel like this Arsenal team can go and be successful and challenge for things.”

The 24 year old Welshman, about to start his 8th season under Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, has slowly but surely become a key fixture at the Emirates Stadium. His 26 goals in 75 appearances in the last two years have helped The Gunners lift two FA Cups and the FA Charity Shield in that period.


Ramsay has excelled in his role as a box-to-box midfielder and has become the engine that keeps the Gunners' engine ticking thanks to his privileged technical ability, ability to run with the ball and eagerness to get constantly involved in attacking transitions. Always prepared to tackle to regain possession, his defensive influence has been key in Arsenal's visible improvement of late.

Having said all of the above, the chances of Ramsay transfer to Barcelona this summer are simply non-existent. His hypothetical €70 million transfer to the Camp Nou giants is nothing more than a summer rumour sparked by the British press with no real evidence. In other words, both wishful thinking and an attempt to leave a door open to a transfer in the future from the Wales international.

Aaron-Ramsay-Barcelona-Arsenal-Arsene-Wenger-utter-nonsense

Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has enough talented midfielders at his disposal and investing such spectacular amounts of money to bring another contender into the mix makes very little sense. With Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic likely to keep their roles as regular starters, it should be up to La Masia graduates Rafinha and Sergi Roberto to step in whenever needed. Plus, let's not forget Arda Turan will also challenging for a spot from January 2016 onwards.

Aaron Ramsay is, without a doubt, one of the best young midfielders in European football, a key difference-maker at Arsenal. Despite his obvious keenness to land at the Camp Nou at some point in his career, neither the price for his transfer or his role in Luis Enrique's team if the deal was in fact complete make any sense.

Have your say: Does Aaron Ramsay have what it takes to succeed at Barcelona?



OPINION: Aaron Ramsay has excelled in his box-to-box midfielder role at Arsenal but Barca just don't need him
Posted by Barçablog.com on Sunday, July 26, 2015

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