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Samuel Umtiti
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Umtiti says he knows all about Barcelona FC

Barcelona, July 16 (IANS) French central defender and Barcelona’s new recruit Samuel Umtiti has acknowledged that his move to the Catalan club is a dream come true and insisted that he knows all about the football club.

The player on Friday said he wanted to come to the club, which he followed for many years, reports Efe.

Umtiti has acknowledged that one aspect that attracted him to Barcelona when he watched it on TV was the way of playing and desire to win.

He said he draws inspiration from three players in his position: Thiago Silva (PSG), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid) and Gerard Pique (Barcelona).

“I am very happy to be here and share a dressing room with world-class players,” he said, admitting that he shed tears when the five-year contract with Barca was closed.

The move of Umtiti from Olympique Lyonnais to Barca cost 25 million euros ($27.6 million), with the clause set at 60 million euros ($66.3 million).

Lucas Digne
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Barca’s Digne: Love to attack, although a modern full-back has to defend

Barcelona, July 14 (IANS) Barcelona’s new French signing Lucas Digne said on Thursday, during his presentation by the Catalan football club, that although he likes to have an attacking role, he is aware that a modern full-back has to remain committed to his defending duties.

“Barca is the biggest club in the world and today is a wonderful day for me. When I was a kid I told my father that I’d like to play at Barcelona one day. To have completed the move is a source of great pride for me,” he told reporters.

“My style of play is really offensive. I love to attack, although I know that the modern full-back has to defend too. I’ve improved a lot in that respect,” he added.

The Frenchman said that he was seeking stability at one of Europe’s giant clubs and Barca is the perfect place for him to develop, reports Efe.

Digne said that he knew about Barcelona’s desire to sign him before the European championship in France, in which he played with his national team and lost the final 0-1 against Portugal.

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I was afraid of Messi and Barca stars: Neymar

Rio de Janeiro, July 13 (IANS) Brazilian superstar Neymar has admitted that he was quite overwhelmed when he first saw Lionel Messi and other FC Barcelona icons before his debut for the Catalan giants.

The 24-year-old joined Barcelona from Santos in 2013 and has developed into one of the best in the business.

“I was afraid when I saw Messi and the others before my first Barcelona game,” Neymar was quoted as saying by TV Globo on Wednesday.

“I got into the dressing room and Messi, Xavi, (Andres) Iniesta, (Gerard) Pique and Dani Alves were all there. These guys were my idols. It was almost as if I was playing on the Playstation. It was very difficult in the beginning,” he added.

Neymar said it was his Brazilian teammate Dani Alves who helped him settle down at Camp Nou.

“Dani Alves was fundamental for me when I came to Barcelona to help me adapt and become what I am now,” he said.

“I have a lot of time for him and for what he did for me at Barcelona.”

Lucas Digne
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FC Barcelona signs French defender Digne through 2022

Barcelona, July 13 (IANS) FC Barcelona announced Wednesday the signing of French defender Lucas Digne from Paris Saint-Germain, for five football seasons and a transfer fee of 16.5 million euros ($18.3 million).

The 22-year-old spent the 2015/2016 season on loan to AS Roma, which allowed him to play two Champions League matches against Barcelona during the group stage, netting one home draw (1-1) and a sobering 6-1 away loss, reports Efe.

Digne’s new contract includes a variable clause worth four million euros that is dependent on the number of future team titles won and his individual performance throughout next season.

Digne was selected by his national team for the recent Euro 2016 but did not take part in any game.

He is set to be presented to fans on Thursday at the Camp Nou Stadium.

Digne faces tough competition from Jordi Alba, the undisputed starter in the left-back position for Barcelona chief coach Luis Enrique, as well as from Brazilian Adriano Correia and Frenchman Jeremy Mathieu.

PSG signed Digne three years ago from LOSC Lille, although last season he was loaned to AS Roma, where he made 29 appearances and scored three goals.

Born in Meaux on July 20, 1993, Digne is an athletic ‘lefty’ with a powerful sprint and an offensive streak that fits perfectly with Barca’s attacking style.

Digne won two French Ligue 1 titles during his stay at PSG, as well as the 2013 under-20 World Cup with France alongside central defender Samuel Umtiti, who was also signed by Barcelona in June.

Digne is Barcelona’s third incoming transfer this summer, after the arrival of Umtiti and Spanish attacking midfielder Denis Suarez.

Samuel Umtiti
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Barcelona sign French defender Umtiti for five years

Barcelona, July 12 (IANS) Spanish football champions Barcelona FC confirmed on Tuesday the signing of Olympique Lyon defender Samuel Umtiti for 25 million euros ($27.71 million).

The 22-year-old Cameroon-born French international signed a five-year contract with the current Spanish champions, the club’s website said, reports Efe.

According to a statement on Barcelona’s website, Umtiti is due to bolster Luis Enrique’s squad in the centre-back and left-back positions.

Despite his youth, Umtiti made a total of 170 appearances for Lyon, acting as captain in several matches.

Umtiti made his international debut this summer in the 2016 UEFA Euro Cup during France’s quarter-final against Iceland.

He went on to play full games in the semi-final and the final.

According to the statement, Umtiti is due to arrive in Barcelona on Thursday and is scheduled for a photo shoot at the Club before a medical assessment the following day.

Depending on the medical results, Umtiti is set to complete his formalities on Friday before being presented to fans at the Camp Nou stadium.

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Football without Messi isn’t football: Neymar

Barcelona, July 10 (IANS) FC Barcelona’s star striker Neymar believes it is impossible not to admire his team-mate Lionel Messi, and added that the sport would be completely different without the Argentine icon.

Messi brought an end to his international career this summer after suffering a third consecutive final defeat in as many years with Argentina — this time losing out on penalties to Chile at the Copa America Centenario, sending his own spot kick sailing over the bar.

While his nine years with the national team have failed to live up to expectations, Messi’s club career has been nothing short of phenomenal, with the five-time Ballon d’Or winner claiming four Champions League titles, three Club World Cups, and eight Liga crowns.

Messi’s summer got worse this week when he was handed a 21-month prison sentence after he was convicted of tax evasion.

And his Barca team-mate believes that, despite his troubles this year, he has changed football.

“I respect his decision to retire, but football without Messi isn’t football, it’s hard to imagine it without him,” Neymar was quoted as saying by Spanish newspaper Marca on Saturday.

“If you like football at all, then you can’t help but admire Messi and everything he’s achieved for Argentina and Barcelona,” the Brazil international said.

Messi scored 55 goals in 113 appearances for Argentina and scored 41 goals in 49 appearances in all competitions for Barca last season.

Lionel Messi
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Barcelona vow to back Messi after ‘personal attack’

Barcelona, July 9 (IANS) FC Barcelona have vowed to support their star Lionel Messi following his decision to appeal against the 21-month jail sentence handed down to him by a Spanish court after being found guilty of fiscal fraud and believes the verdict is “an attack on his person”.

The Argentinian icon and his father Jorge were both given the same prison sentences for the offence, with the 29-year-old fined 2 million euros for three counts of tax fraud and his father penalised 1.7 million euros.

Neither Messi nor his father is likely to spend any time in prison as any sentence of less than two years – for non-violent offences – can be served under probation according to Spanish law, but they have nonetheless opted to appeal as they deny any wrongdoing and Barcelona stand by their man.

“We understand that Messi is not guilty in any way and has no penal responsibilities,” Barcelona spokesman Josep Vives was quoted as saying by goal.com on Friday.

“We shall be at his side no matter what it takes. Messi has announced that he’ll be appealing and the club will be absolutely and unconditionally at his side when he does that. We see this as an attack on his person,” Vives said.

Messi hattrick
Messi scored a hat-trick
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Messi’s hat-trick in Barcelona’s 5-1 thrashing of Rayo Vallecano

Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick as FC Barcelona restored their eight-point lead over Atletico Madrid and 12-point advantage over Real Madrid at the top of the La Liga following a comfortable 5-1 win away over Rayo Vallecano, who finished the game with nine men.

Ivan Rakitic opened the scoring after 22 minutes when Rayo keeper Juan Carlos dropped a straight-forward cross to allow the Croatian to score a simple goal, reports Xinhua.

Messi doubled Barcelona’s lead just a minute later after a counter-attack. The Argentinean took a pass from Neymar to score with a first time shot, although the goal should not have stood as Neymar was slightly offside at the start of the move.

The league leaders’ task was made significantly easier just before the break when Rayo defender Diego Llorente was sent off for a high tackle on Rakitic, although he was unlucky as TV replays showed he had clearly got to the ball well before his momentum carried him into the Barcelona midfielder.

Rayo are a brave side and kept on trying in the second half with Barcelona happy to create chances on the break. Messi netted his second of the night after Suarez had hit the post after another counter-attack eight minutes after the break.

Manucho gave the home side a reward that their attitude deserved when he scored a close-range header just four minutes later.

Ray were down to nine men with 20 minutes remaining as Manuel Iturra was deemed to have denied Barcelona a goalscoring opportunity as he brought down Sergio Busquets, only for Luis Suarez to miss yet another penalty.

It mattered little as Messi scored his third of the night three minutes later after getting through the Rayo defence and Arda Turan headed a fifth in the 86th minute.

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