TOP 5 Barca: Messi, Coutinho, Valencia, Pique, Ballou Tabla

Why has Messi improved so drastically this season? | The Barcelona Podcast

As promised, here is our first ever BONUS episode for you. We talked about Messi's improvement under Valverde, picked our 5 Star Players of the Week, added the second half of the interview with Kevin Williams and we answered tons of Listener Questions. We truly do hope you enjoy it! It's here.

Leo Messi: 'We want to win the lot' |

Messi: “Valverde has been very clear about what he wanted from the team since the day he came. We adapted very quickly to what he asked us to do, although it wasn’t all that different to what we were doing before. But we have got a lot better at defending and in attack we have a lot of players that are proving decisive.”

“We have been interested in signing both Coutinho and Mina since the summer. Mascherano left and we have immediately brought in a new centre back as a replacement. We’re happy to have him here.” More here.

Espanyol report Pique and Busquets after their derby comments | Sport

Espanyol have complained to La Liga's anti-violence committee after Sergio Busquets and Gerard Pique 'insulted' their club on Thursday after winning the Copa del Rey quarter final second leg 2-0 to progress to the semis 2-1 on aggregate at Camp Nou. Pique kept refering to Espanyol as "Espanyol from Cornella".

"We consider any comments in a clearly derogatory tone toward those cities, such as those pronounced by Mr Pique Bernabeu towards the city of Cornella, flirt very dangerously with xenophobic attitudes and in any case, clearly generate violence and intolerance within our sport." More here.

Impact transfer top prospect Ballou Tabla to FC Barcelona | CBC

Top prospect Ballou Tabla has been transferred to FC Barcelona in what the Montreal Impact called a proud moment for its organization. Spanish giant Barcelona, one of the top teams in world soccer, said on its website that 18-year-old Tabla passed his medical exam and signed a contract for three years plus two option years.

While the transfer fee was not disclosed, the contract has a buyout clause of 25 million euros (C$38.2 million) for the first three years and 75 million euros ($115.2 million) if the deal is extended. More here.

Ernesto Valverde's reaction to the Copa del Rey draw | Sport

Valverde said "It's a tricky semi-final which we've got to play to reach the final. We'll take it on with hope, but Valencia have shown they are a tricky side. Valencia, for how they've done this season, makes it a bit trickier than if we faced either of the other two sides."

Barcelona receive Valencia at Camp Nou on Thursday February 1, with the away game the following week. More here.

Farewell Masche aka Change will come | Barcelona Football Blog

Guardian journalist Sid Lowe wrote a 2016 column about Javier Mascherano, THE Bendtner tackle and the moment that he became a Barça player, rather than a man who plays for Barcelona.

The distinction is important, because it explains a lot about why Mascherano was something special, and why his departure is hitting everyone at the club, everyone who supports the club, everyone who loves Barça football, hard. More here.

Here is our bonus episode - Enjoy!