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Why Joao Félix prioritised Barcelona over Liverpool



The heart often desires what reason cannot understand. That’s perhaps the best way to explain Joao Félix’s intense drive to drape himself in FC Barcelona’s iconic maroon and blue.

Despite being aware of not being Xavi Hernández’s first pick, the Portuguese virtuoso still took the road leading to Catalonia. This compelling passion was, as reported by Mundo Deportivo, motivated not by fanfare or circumstances, but purely by a dream.

“To get his head into the Barça locker room and from there, day by day, earn a place,” that’s what Félix envisioned. Proving his mettle and convincing Xavi of his indispensable nature became his personal mission. His determination was evident, and in doing so, Félix made sacrifices unheard of in today’s footballing economy.

A Sacrifice for Dreams
As glamorous as football may seem, financial practicalities often dictate a player’s future. But Joao Félix, unfazed by monetary complications, set a unique precedent. Knowing Barcelona’s intricate salary situation, he communicated through Jorge Mendes, his influential agent, a willingness to forgo half his £12 million paycheck, settling for a £6 million gross.

Additionally, extending his contract with Atlético de Madrid until 2029, Félix displayed a trust in his abilities. This move strategically benefited Atlético, enabling them to adjust their financial commitments, a blessing in light of LaLiga’s strict ‘fair play’ regulations.

But what stands out starkly is FC Barcelona’s commitment to Félix, which amounts to a mere 400,000 euros annually. While Atlético shoulders a portion of this financial weight, the specifics vary depending on whether you’re listening to whispers in Madrid or Barcelona.

Liverpool’s Missed Opportunity with Núñez
While Félix had his heart set on Barcelona, other elite clubs threw their hats into the ring, eager to woo the young prodigy. Most notably, Liverpool presented an enticing proposal, suggesting a player-swap involving their sharpshooter, Darwin Núñez. This proposition, under normal circumstances, would have made heads turn. But Félix’s heart, stubborn and unwavering, responded with a polite, “No, thank you, I want to go to Barça and I will wait.”

Manchester United’s emblematic red tried its allure, as did Unai Emery’s revitalised Aston Villa. Even the glitz of Arabia beckoned with Al-Hilal briefly courting Félix before turning their attention to Neymar. But it all returned to that singular dream – playing at Camp Nou.

A Future to Carve
The stage is set, and the stakes have never been higher. Joao Félix’s journey to Barcelona, marked by financial sacrifices and sheer determination, presents him with a unique challenge. Success here means solidifying his reputation and enamouring himself to the ‘culés’. A challenging spell, on the other hand, would still see him fulfilling his cherished dream.

Either way, Joao Félix’s tale is a testament to following one’s heart, even when the world presents easier paths. Now, all that remains is to dazzle on the field, beneath the lights of the Camp Nou.

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European Leagues

Erik ten Hag hits back at Jamie Carragher’s analysis of Manchester United




Erik ten Hag has hit back at Jamie Carragher’s “subjective” analysis of Manchester United on Monday Night Football.

United’s four-game winning run in the Premier League ended on Saturday with a 2-1 home defeat to Fulham, keeping them eight points adrift of the Champions League places.

Sky Sports’ Carragher highlighted why recent results have masked the problems with Ten Hag’s system, which has left them so susceptible defensively even when winning games.

But Ten Hag fired back at Carragher’s analysis ahead of their FA Cup fifth-round tie at Nottingham Forest on Wednesday, saying: “Some analysts are objective in their comments, [offer] very good advices, some are very subjective – Jamie Carragher is one of them.

“For the first moment he is criticising and now he wants to make his point. In the first half an hour [vs Fulham] he had a point. Fulham surprised with their midfield setup and we had to find a solution. We did after half an hour.

“I wasn’t pleased with the defensive performance, especially down the left side and that has everything to do with willingness, spirit and passion. That was good in previous weeks, therefore we won football games.

“Footballers are not robots, sometimes they have bad days. It was unacceptable and we have to do better tomorrow.”

The FA Cup represents the last realistic chance of silverware for Manchester United this season and Ten Hag stressed the importance of the fixture at Forest.

“We were unbeaten in January and February and we lost one game. It was a poor performance and defeat, we are aware,” he said. “We want to stay in every competition. We have to win tomorrow. It doesn’t change our approach – that is for every game.

“I know the future. But I look at today, we work on the team development and try to win every game. We look forward to the longer term.”

Since Ten Hag joined the club in 2022, United have faced 20 or more shots in a Premier League game 12 times – already double that of Man City and Liverpool under Guardiola and Klopp, despite the pair having spent a combined 13 years longer with their clubs.

This season alone, Ten Hag has watched his side face 16 or more shots on 14 different occasions, a tally matched only by Luton and Sheffield United, who both sit in the relegation zone.

Carragher said: “Over the last few weeks, Manchester United have been in great form but still the underlying numbers have been really poor.

“They’ve been very fortunate, so we’re not talking about them now just because they lost to Fulham.

“It’s about performance. They defend like a team I’ve never seen before. They like to press high with a deep block.

“It’s impossible. They like to do two things at the same time. You can only do one or the other.

“We’re all pressing high or we’re all defending deep. They’re trying to do both.”

Carragher said: “I’ve chosen clips against Fulham, but I could have chosen clips from where they’ve won games like against Aston Villa. It’s still the same problem.

“I want to highlight a problem from the very kick-off. If I highlight Kobbie Mainoo, this is not a criticism of him, it’s more of what are his instructions before the game?

“He’s not sure if he should be looking after the holding midfielder or watching the No 10. He’s caught in between.

“It’s straight from the kick-off. You should know your job from kick-off. That’s down to the coaching staff.

“You can see the big problem then had just 20 seconds into the game against Fulham. It’s been the problem for Manchester United all season.

“They’ve shown they’re a poor side at handling counter-attacks. They’ve got no pace at the back and they’ve got a lack of legs in midfield.”

Carragher added: “Another big problem for them is when they’ve got the ball. Some people say there’s no patterns of play with Manchester United.

“What’s their philosophy? I tell you one of the reasons why there’s no patterns of play and another reason why they get done on the counter-attack… Look at the positions the players find themselves in when Raphael Varane is on the ball.

“You look where the right-back is [Diogo Dalot] and he can’t receive a pass. Mainoo is on the last line. His position can’t be right. Bruno Fernandes, your No 10 is playing like a striker, and on the other side, Victor Lindelof can’t receive the ball.

“It leads to a turnover and how many times have you seen Manchester United players having to run 40 yards back to their own goal this season?”

“Look at the ones who are sprinting. The ones who took up wrong positions. Dalot, Mainoo, Bruno Fernandes and Lindelof. They’re sprinting 30, 40, 50 yards five or six times in a game – hence why they get so many injuries in a game.

“With Fulham’s winning goal, we see that Marcus Rashford won’t run while Harry Maguire and Christian Eriksen can’t run. That’s a massive problem for them.”


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European Leagues

Micah Richards names Arsenal star who impressed most this season




Former Manchester City right-back, Micah Richards has identified Bukayo Saka as the Arsenal player who has impressed him the most this season.

Richards said this while recently speaking on The Rest is Football podcast.

He said, “Saka has really impressed me the most because when you are a marksman, you know when you are coming through and people don’t really know your game.

“But when everyone knows you are that good and you have two or three men around you but are still able to deliver, I think that is the most impressive thing to see ]Bukayo] Saka do it consistently.”

Saka has been in excellent form for Arsenal this season.

The England winger has scored 13 goals and registered 8 assists for the Gunners so far this term.

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European Leagues

Man Utd have already taken decision on Ten Hag – Gary Neville




Former Manchester United captain Gary Neville has said the club has already made a decision on manager Erik ten Hag’s future.

Last weekend, the Red Devils’ four-match winning streak in the Premier League ended with a 2-1 home defeat to Fulham.

The result leaves Ten Hag’s side eight points off the top four places.

Although the revamped Champions League format means finishing fifth would likely be enough to secure a spot in next season’s competition, Neville highlighted the team’s confused playing style under Ten Hag as a serious concern.

“If you look at [Omar Berrada] coming in from City as CEO, and looking to get Dan Ashworth from Newcastle, they’re going to make a decision quite quickly if they haven’t already.

“I suspect Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Dave Brailsford already know whether Erik ten Hag will be the manager next season. I can’t believe they’re going to wait until May to make that decision, and then leave themselves short,” Neville said on Monday Night Football.


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