Ivan Rakitic Heading for Barcelona Exit Amid Playing Time Concerns & Stalled Contract Talks

?Reports in Spain have again touted Ivan Rakitic to leave Barcelona this summer, with his stalling contract negotiations and the prospect of a lesser role putting his future at the club in jeopardy. 

The 31-year-old has been an immovable object in Barça’s midfield since signing from Sevilla five years ago, but the club are moving into a new era after a summer that has changed the face of the club. 

Antoine Griezmann adds another dimension to their attack, but it is perhaps midfield where there will be the most noticeable change, with the addition of Frenkie de Jong and the return of Sergi Roberto to a more advanced role adding competition to what is already a stacked card in the middle of the park. 


?AS speculate that this could play its part in forcing Rakitic out, also adding that a new deal is beginning to look increasingly unlikely for the Croatian. 

He is already in his 30s and has two years to run on his current terms, so with ?Barça looking to minimise their salary spend where possible, increased terms for Rakitic don’t look to be on the horizon despite his representatives best efforts. 

Ernesto Valverde is even reported to have told the player that ‘time moves on from us all’ – but you can read into that what you will.


All of this conflicts with ?quotes from Rakitic himself this week stating a clear desire to stay and fight for places at Camp Nou. 

“I’ve spoken with the club and the coach and we have the same idea, for me to stay at Barça. We’re open to everything, as always, but my intention is to stay. I have two more years on my contract and I want to keep enjoying myself at Barça.

“It [speculation] doesn’t annoy me. I know that football works like this and it makes me proud because if other teams want me it’s because I’m doing things very well. I’m calm.”

Ivan Rakitic,Rafinha

If he does leave, ?Inter look to be the main contender, with the frequently-linked ?Manchester United seemingly now focused on younger targets. 


Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Provides Early Update on Eric Bailly After Pre-Season Knee Injury

?Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed that centre-back Eric Bailly will undergo ‘scans and checks’ to gauge the severity of the knee injury he suffered during Thursday’s pre-season meeting with Tottenham in Shanghai.

A half-time substitute as Solskjaer replaced his entire team at the break, Bailly cruelly had to be stretched off within minutes of coming on and was later pictured leaving the stadium on crutches and with his left knee supported in a brace.

The United boss admitted the situation ‘doesn’t look great’, and it is potentially another huge blow for a player whose three-year career at Old Trafford has been dogged by injuries.

“It seems that he’s twisted his knee so we just have to do some scans and checks on him. At first sight, it doesn’t look great but let’s see how it goes,” Solskjaer told MUTV.

The worst-case scenario for Bailly would obviously be ACL damage that could rule him out for most of the 2019/20 season – Marco Asensio has already suffered that fate at Real Madrid.

Bailly had only recently to action returned from a medial ligament injury in his right knee that ruled him out of this summer’s African Cup of Nations with Ivory Coast.

Eric Bailly

A combination of fitness issues and poor form limited the former Villarreal defender to just eight Premier League starts last season, while he missed close to four months of 2017/18 as a result of an ankle injury. He also suffered a knee problem just a few weeks after arriving in 2016.

United had already been trying to sign a new centre-back this summer, but whether Bailly’s injury speeds things up in that respect remains to be seen. Negotiations with Leicester over Harry Maguire have been ongoing for some time but a final deal is still yet to be fully agreed.


Newcastle Confident of Sealing Allan Saint-Maximin Deal as Watford Switch Targets

Exclusive – Newcastle remain keen on striking a deal with Nice for winger Allan Saint-Maximin before deadline day, with the two clubs locked in negotiations over a fee.

The 22-year-old scored six goals and contributed five assists in 36 Ligue 1 appearances last season, helping his side finish comfortably inside the top ten.

?Newcastle have been interested in Saint-Maximin for some time, and it’s 90min‘s understanding that the Magpies are confident a transfer can be concluded before the end of the month.

Nice are holding out for a fee of £20m, but Newcastle are ideally looking to lower the French side down to £18m – having already seen a £14m bid earlier in the transfer window rejected.

New manager Steve Bruce has already broken the club’s transfer record to sign Joelinton from Hoffenheim for £35m, but he is keen to continue strengthening his frontline options to replace the departed Ayoze Perez and Salomon Rondon.

Steve Bruce

Perez has joined ?Premier League rivals Leicester, while Rondon has joined Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang – where he’ll reunite with former manager Rafa Benitez – after a successful loan spell at St James’ Park.

Bruce has admitted that talks are underway between the two parties, but he remained coy in a recent press conference when pressed on how close a deal was. In quotes carried by ?The Sun, he said: “I don’t think it’s on the verge of happening. 

“It’s somebody we have looked at, it’s somebody we have identified. We’ll see what happens.”


Watford were also keen on completing a deal for French Under-21 international Saint-Maximin, but they have switched their attentions to Rennes’ Ismaila Sarr instead – leaving the coast clear for Newcastle to wrap up their second signing of the summer.


Zinedine Zidane Admits He Is Worried by Injuries Real Madrid Have Suffered in Pre-Season

?Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has admitted that the injuries suffered by several of his players this summer are a concern just a few weeks from the start of the new La Liga season.

Marco Asensio will require surgery after rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during a friendly against Arsenal and is expected to miss the majority of the 2019/20 season.

Marco Asensio

Brahim Diaz has also been nursing a thigh problem this month, while new full-back Ferland Mendy has suffered a minor setback that has ruled him out of crucial training sessions.

“It worries me and above all it bothers me,” Zidane is bluntly quoted as saying by Marca.

“Marco’s [injury and then] Ferland’s, which is a minor injury, but he won’t be able to continue working and we don’t know for how long. These are things that happen and we will see if he comes back quickly with us,” the Frenchman added.


Real will not make any changes to the squad while the summer tour of North America is ongoing, although it remains to be seen what the plan may be once they are back home, and whether it will involved promoting players from within or dipping into the transfer market.

“We are preparing with the players who are here [on tour]. Then we will return to Madrid,” Zidiane explained. “I don’t think about who is going to replace Marco. We are devastated with Marco’s injury and our squad is the one we have here.”

As far as wingers and forwards are concerned, Real are set to sell Gareth Bale before the end of the summer, but Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic and Rodrygo have all joined.


There could also be a greater role for Vinicius Junior this season after a strong debut campaign, while Lucas Vazquez and Mariano Diaz are still fighting for places as well. Isco remains with the club despite previous suggestions he could move on this summer.


Barcelona Appoint Former Striker Patrick Kluivert as New Director of Youth Football

?Barcelona have officially appointed former striker Patrick Kluivert as the club’s new director of youth football on a two-year contract until the end of the 2020/21 season.

Kluivert, who is well versed in the importance of youth development after he himself rose through the ranks of Ajax in the 1990s, left Camp Nou in 2004 after six years, over 120 Barça goals and the 1998/99 La Liga title.

In his new role, the 43-year-old will oversee the development of the next generation of Barça players in the club’s famed La Masía academy.

Still the youngest ever goalscorer in a European Cup final after hitting the winner for Ajax against AC Milan at the age of 18 in 1995, Kluivert’s post-playing career has seen him work in a variety of different roles at different levels in preparation for this job.

He started out as an assistant to mentor and former Barça coach Louis van Gaal at Dutch club AZ as soon as he retired from playing in 2008. He also later worked with Van Gaal in the Dutch national team and has worked at youth level for both Ajax and FC Twente.


Kluivert’s travels have also taken him to Curacao and Cameroon, the latter alongside ex-Ajax teammate Clarence Seedorf, while he was also sporting director at Paris Saint-Germain.

“I am very happy to be back home and looking forward to this new era, with the challenge of keeping Barça among the top teams in the world,” Kluivert told FCBarcelona.com.

“I grew up at the Ajax academy, which is very similar to La Masía, and I think I can do a lot for the development of young Barça players.”