Tags: keita


pre-match news: Malaga v Barca

I apologise for my lax posting lately: it's exam time. Look for an increase in about a week's time.

+ An understrength Barca team beat third division Benidorm 0-1 with a strike from Bojan in their round of 32 first leg Copa del Rey game. The return leg is at the Camp Nou. Anyone want to guess how many people will turn up to that one? 3,000?

+ Bad injury new first: worryingly, Abidal has a knee problem that will rule him out for at least a week and might require surgery if it doesn't improve after that.

+ Good injury news: Guddy and Pedro both have medical clearance! They haven't been included in Pep's squad for Malaga, but look for at least Guddy to make a comeback against Basle midweek. Keita is running again as well, which is very encouraging.

+ Speaking of which, the squad:

Goalkeepers: Valdes, Pinto

Defenders: Marquez, Pique, Puyol, Caceres, Sylvinho

Midfielders: Xavi, Toure, Sergio B

Forwards: Henry, Bojan, Eto'o, Messi

*Swiss army knives: Iniesta, Hleb, Alves, Victor Sanchez

The new category there is for people who can play in a variety of positions across the pitch, leaving me unsure as to how I'm supposed to classify them.

+ Pep says we need to be careful. He's right - Malaga are a good side, only 4 places below Barca in the table, having just beaten Sevilla away [not many teams can do that] and on a 4-game winning streak. Any complacency will be punished.

+ He also says that Xavi is going nowhere, so feel free to continue laughing at the desperate attempts of publications such as Tuttosport to drum up rumours about half the Barca midfield.

+ Some news on the work of the FC Barcelona Foundation.

news bits ahead of Basle v Barca

+ Barca and Basel have a special connection - several, in fact, both in terms of Barca's founding and in terms of the ground being the place where Barca won their first official European trophy.

+ Seydou Keita will be out for two weeks after sustaining an injury against Athletic Bilbao. Initially it looked like he'd broke a bone, but thankfully that turned out not to be the case and he's just got a sprain.

+ Other injury scares for Rafa and Yaya turned out to be nothing, so they've both been included in the latest squad.

+ Having been rested because of muscle fatigue in the last game, Xavi is now back in the squad. Along with Leo and Puyi he has been tipped to return to the starting line-up, although with Pep you never know.

+ Incidentially, Leo is on 49 goals [in 118 games] for Barca right now. Hopefully 50 is just around the corner.

+ Speaking of goalscoring, Sammy has scored 11 goals in his last 12 games. So he's got some form at the moment.

+ Pep says:

"It's typical of this club to underestimate teams, but in Europe one mistake can cost you the game."

So the message is no complacency. A win here would put Barca in an excellent position in terms of qualification for the next round and take the pressure off during the month of December with all those difficult league games against Sevilla, Valencia, Real and Villarreal.

news round-up: cantera awesomeness, and managers

Hope you're all enjoying Euro 2008 or the World Cup qualifiers going on in other parts of the world. On to the news.

+ The no confidence vote against the board will be held on July 6 in Camp Nou. A 2/3 vote against the board will trigger an election. Potential candidates include current vice president Soriano and former vice president Sandro Rosell [formerly Laporta's best friend, now his worst enemy].

+ The official website profiles Tito Vilanova, our new assistant manager, who will be familiar to the likes of Messi and Pique.

+ Rijkaard looks back. [Oh, Frank.]

+ Our top women's team [I bet some of you guys didn't know we had 1, let alone 4 - I didn't until about 2 years ago] were promoted back to the Spanish Superliga with a 7-1 [!!!] victory over FVPR El Olivo.

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(One of our new boys, Seydou Keita, has scored 4 goals in his last two games for Mali. Nice.)

Finally, Guardiola got back in town today from his supershort vacation, so look for a flurry of official presentations soon, starting with the unveiling of the new kit on the 25th.

And of course some more transfer announcements, possibly within the next week.

two confirmed signings

Seydou Keita and Gerard Pique have both put pen to paper.

27-year-old Mali midfielder Keita comes off the back of a great debut season in La Liga with Sevilla. His cost is rumoured to be around 14 million euros.

21-year-old defender Gerard returns to the club of his youth from Manchester United. During his time with United, he had an excellent season on loan at Zaragoza. His price tag is said to be around 5 million.

The official site has a great article about (life-long Barca socio) Gerard's development at La Masia, alongside the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Leo Messi.

Gerard Piqué spoke to Barça TV and www.fcbarcelona.cat and said his return to club “is a dream come true. It is a dream to return to Barça. When I left I thought it would be very difficult to come back but now the dream has come true”.

Great stuff. Welcome, Seydou, and welcome home, Gerard.

transfers, and lots of Pep

+ It seems that our first two signings are almost complete. Negotiations are at an 'advanced stage' with Manchester United for Gerard Pique, who if you'll recall is a La Masia graduate who was in the same age group teams as Leo Messi and Cesc Fabregas. I for one am very pleased that he's coming back home. He will cost somewhere around 6 million euros.

+ Sevilla's Mali national Seydou Keita has also completed a medical and signed personal terms. It just remains for Barca and Sevilla to work out the method of payment for his 14 million euro buy-out clause. [Sevilla do drive a hard bargain, but Keita has been excellent this past season and is IMHO well worth the fee.]

+ I've been saying this on my journal for a while: the Catalan media have always been obsessed with Pep Guardiola (and his artsy, celebrity friends). Now that he's going to be first team coach it's only going to get more intense.

Exhibit 1: Guardiola has lunch with former team mate (and Barca icon) Luis Enrique! What could this mean? [*snort* That he likes seeing his friends?]

Exhibit 2: Guardiola is at the airport with the B team, signing autographs! He takes them to see the new Indiana Jones movie to relax! [The B team has probably never had as much media coverage as they have now. And I'm not kidding about the Indiana Jones thing.]

Exhibit 3: Guardiola visits Gabi Milito in hospital (for three hours)! [Admittedly a quite interesting story if the reports of what they discussed are true.]

+ Thierry Henry has revealed that he has spoken to either Pep himself or a deputy and gotten assurances that he is wanted for next season. [Yay!]

+ Because of the departure of Ronaldinho, there will be a captaincy reshuffle next season, which will be decided by a vote. Carles Puyol will almost definitely remain captain, probably followed by Xavi, Iniesta and Valdes.