FRIDAY’S BIG HEADLINES
The Barcelona circus is going nowhere
To paraphrase Gareth Keenan, that’ll be another quiet day at Futbol Club Barcelona… not. I don’t think.
Where to begin? Probably with the whirlwind of news spinning out of one little word uttered by his father, Jorge, yesterday. Messi snr has flown into Barcelona for showdown talks with president Josep Maria Bartomeu and tracked down by reporters, was asked whether Messi could yet stay at the club for the final year of his contract.
To which Jorge replied: “Yes.”
Or did he? Because CNN reports that Jorge’s reply could be interpreted as either “yes” or “I don’t know”. Quite a spectrum covered in one little word.
A bunch of reports did the rounds on Thursday hinting that a stay is likely, with some even putting the chances of Messi playing for Barcelona next season as high as “90%”.
But that wasn’t the only story in town. Because late last night it emerged that Bartomeu and the Barca board were facing allegations of corruption by Catalan police.
El Mundo reported that the Catalan police force have filed a report to the judge investigating Barcelona's hiring of social media consultancy I3 Ventures to monitor its online presence that concluded 'possible economic crimes'.
The allegation seems to be that Barcelona paid over the market rate for the services of the company linked to a scandal known as ‘Barcagate’, which saw coordinated social media activity directed against critics of the club and even some players such as Messi and Gerard Pique.
Six members of the Barcelona board resigned in April over the scandal but now it seems to have come to the attention of the police.
Just another normal day at possibly the most shambolic club in world football at the moment.
Fati makes debut, and history, for Spain
Ansu Fati of Spain battles for possession with Thilo Kehrer of Germany during the UEFA Nations League group stage match between Germany and Spain
Image credit: Getty Images
While everyone loses their collective minds over something Lionel Messi’s dad may or may not have muttered under his breath, in the mega-saga that is devouring the summer, last night Barcelona’s latest ‘new Messi’ had a night to remember.
Ansu Fati came on as a substitute for Spain in their match against Germany as the second edition of the UEFA Nations League kicked off. Fati, aged just 17 years and 308 days, became Spain’s second youngest ever player, second only to Angel Zubieta in 1936.
And Fati looked sharp when coming on, only being denied a debut goal when Sergio Ramos was deemed to have fouled an opponent while the teenager headed in superbly from a cross. In the end it was left to Jose Gaya to score a 95th-minute equaliser after this opening effort from Chelsea’s new striker, Timo Werner:
New Messis have come and gone at Barcelona. Bojan was the first. The forward turned down a call-up to Euro 2008 at the age of 17 due to anxiety attacks and has only made one international appearance for Spain. Munir was the next biggest hope, but he again has made just a solitary appearance for the national side.
Fati, though, looks well placed to make a more significant impact on the international stage. As Luis Enrique said: "Ansu has shown what we all already know him to be. He is special and different.”
Nations League: Back B4 you know it
Wales and Ireland have been draw against each other in Nations League B4, and Ryan Giggs’ side got off to a winning start thanks to Kieffer Moore’s goal against Finland.
With experienced heads like Joe Allen and Aaron Ramsey missing, it was an experimental Welsh side with debuts for Manchester United midfielder Dylan Levitt, Liverpool defender Neco Williams and Swansea’s Ben Cabango.
Ireland’s most prominent debutant was manager Stephen Kenny, who has talked a good game about transforming the country’s style of play. Although they needed an injury-time set-piece goal from Shane Duffy to draw 1-1, which just goes to show that old habits die hard.
IN OTHER NEWS
WHAT. A. MISS from Finland’s Leo Vaisanen against Wales.
For no real reason whatsoever, here’s eight minutes of ridiculousness from Juan Roman Riquelme.
It’s another action-packed night in the Nations League and if you are so inclined, you can follow live text coverage of Netherlands v Poland with us at 7:45pm.
If there's anything left of Barcelona by Monday, Andi Thomas will have the latest updates.