Barcelona women’s team relegated to economy in first mixed tour

A laudable gesture from Barcelona has gone sour after it emerged that the giants’ men’s and women’s teams were subjected to different treatments on a landmark tour. 

The Catalans made history with their first-ever mixed tour this summer, as both sides headed to the United States to prepare in pre-season. 

Stars like Sergi Roberto, Nelson Semedo and Denis Suarez were pictured smiling alongside Barca women’s top talents on the plane prior to take-off. 

But once the photo opportunity was over, the men’s team made themselves comfortable in business class on the flight to Portland while the women had to settle for economy tickets. 

According to the club, a lack of space in business was behind the embarrassing segregation, which was noticed on social media by accounts that follow the exploits of Barca women. 

Barca player Alexia Putellas added that she and her team-mates did not feel slighted by the decision, which owed to a lack of planning time for the women’s tour. 

“The reason we travelled like that is because the decision for us to take part on the tour was made later,” she said to Mundo Deportivo

“We know that the first team organises with a lot of pre-planning and we didn’t know anything about pre-season. Everything was arranged and the club made its best effort to organise at the last minute.

“Taking into account how long the flight was, we are fine. A few years ago there were very long trips, now we travel in better conditions. Before making the long journeys by coach was tough, I wish we always travelled in these conditions. We are lucky.” 

Barcelona’s men, shorn of the likes of Lionel Messi, Ivan Rakitic and Luis Suarez, who are on post-World Cup leave, will take on Tottenham and Milan in the US as well as facing a potentially explosive game against Roma in their three International Champions Cup matches this summer. 

Putellas and her team-mates, meanwhile, begin their tour with a match against SoCal FC of the Women’s Premier Soccer League on Saturday. 

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Islam Slimani: What does the future hold?


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Leicester City’s decision to sign Islam Slimani for £28 million in 2016 appeared to make sense, even if the forward appeared somewhat overpriced.

The hope was that he had the presence and the physicality to thrive in the Premier League, and after netting 27 in 33 goals in his final Primeira Liga season, he clearly knew the route to goal.

Many of the Foxes’ new signings struggled in the 2016-17 campaign, and Slimani was no different, despite ending the year with seven goals in the top flight.

He didn’t kick on last term, however, and appears to no longer have a future at the King Power Stadium.


The story of last season


Islam Slimani

Rather than building on his return in his maiden season in England, Slimani took a step back last term, and clearly didn’t have the trust of either Craig Shakespeare or his successor Claude Puel.

He netted just once in 12 outings for Leicester before being sent on loan to Newcastle United during the January transfer window.

Islam Slimani | 2017-18 stats

It was a switch that offered Slimani a chance to finally make his mark, but a thigh injury prevented him from making his debut until late March, and he did little of note before the season ended.

Now 30, has his best chance of proving his worth in the Prem passed him by?


What could happen this window?


Islam Slimani Leicester City

Despite an underwhelming time in England—and a particularly disappointing 2017-18 season—Slimani still appears to have some suitors, even though no one has made a move for his services at the time of writing.

Sporting Lisbon appear to be favourites to his signature, although the Portuguese giants will be unable to repay anything close to the fee that they received for his services two years ago.

Instead, the Lions are understood to favour a loan deal, although Leicester are keen to sell the striker outright.

It’s an impasse that may ultimately rule out Sporting as buyers for the ageing forward, as Slimani’s wages also representing a stumbling block.

There are other options for the North African, with Fenerbahce, Al-Hilal, Olympique de Marseille and Newcastle United linked to his signature.


What to expect next season


Islam Slimani Leicester City

Despite the disparity between what Leicester want and what Sporting can offer, noises coming from the Portuguese club—according to the local media—suggest that they’re confident they can get the deal over the line.

It would certainly deny Slimani any chance to ‘redeem’ his career in England, but back at the Estadio Jose Alavalade, he could return to the goalscoring form that made him one of the continent’s most feared forwards two seasons ago.

Newcastle appear to be out of the running for the forward, but if OM and Fener may yet represent appealing destinations for the attacker.

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‘Send us Messi!’ – Roma president condemns Barca & Bordeaux over Malcom move

Roma president James Pallotta will only forgive Barcelona for their “immoral and unethical” signing of Malcom if Lionel Messi is sent as a peace offering.

The Serie A side were on the verge of completing the capture of the highly rated winger when Barca gazumped them with a last-ditch bid of €41million.

Bordeaux accepted the offer and the 21-year-old was re-routed to Spain having been set to board a flight for a medical in Rome.

Pallotta claims his club already had a deal in place and that Malcom was eager to join, only to turn his back on the transfer within a matter of hours.

In an interview with Sirius XM, the American businessman condemned both Barca and Bordeaux and confirmed his intention to take legal action.

“In terms of Barcelona, it looks like a pattern for them over the last few years of doing things that just should not be done at a club with the reputation that Barcelona intends to have,” Pallotta said, as quoted by his club’s website.

“In fact, they apologised for their actions and how they went about things. I don’t accept the apology.

“The only way I’ll accept it is on either one of two conditions: one, they give the player to us. That’s obviously not going to happen.

“Two, maybe as a goodwill gesture at the very least they could send us Messi!

“I think in this case the player wanted to come to us. I think a lot of clubs were interested in him but did not want to bother him because maybe they did not think they had a shot at him in terms of the timing.

“We had a guy over there talking with the player in person. The deal was done.

“I have zero problem battling it out for a player with another big club, if we are all going through the same process trying to get him. That’s the way it works. 

“But, at the end of the day, when the deal is done and completely agreed… we all know how it works, the kid comes in for a medical and then it is signed. 

“Other teams know not to come in and do what Barcelona did. Bordeaux should never have done what they did – the legal side will come later, but it is immoral and unethical too.”

The incident marks another chapter in a burgeoning rivalry between Barca and Roma, the Italian outfit having memorably mounted a stunning fightback to dump the Liga giants out of last season’s Champions League quarter-finals.

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Happy Benzema targeting ‘history’ at Real Madrid

Karim Benzema is confident he can put a disappointing individual season behind him to become a key figure in the post-Cristiano Ronaldo era at Real Madrid.

The 30-year-old looked to be a fading force last term as he netted just five La Liga goals and began to face speculation over his future at the Santiago Bernabeu.

But his opening goal in the Champions League final win over Liverpool and the appointment of Julen Lopetegui as head coach appears to have given the former France striker fresh hope of a prominent role in his 10th season at the club.

Reportedly the subject of interest from AC Milan, Benzema says he is squarely focused on bouncing back to his best and spearheading Madrid’s push for more success.

“We have to keep winning silverware because the target here is always to win things as a team,” the ex-Lyon striker told his club’s website.

“On a personal level, I’ll be looking to have a better season than I did last time around and continue to etch my name into the club’s history books.

“I couldn’t have imagined achieving everything that I have, but I joined this club to win silverware, be a success and achieve a lot of things.

“I knew that I’d have some tough seasons, but it doesn’t matter because this is the best club in the world. I’m really happy.”

Benzema also provided an insight into the early stages of the team’s transformation under Lopetegui, who was sensationally sacked as Spain coach on the eve of the World Cup.

“We know that Lopetegui is a coach who likes his teams to have the ball and play a possession-based game,” the four-time Champions League winner said.

“He also places great emphasis on working hard when we lose the ball and how we press after we’ve given possession away.”

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Ahmed Musa applauds fans despite losing World Cup best goal award

Ahmed Musa has applauded fans despite losing the 2018 World Cup best goal award to France defender Benjamin Pavard.

The Leicester City forward’s second goal for Nigeria in their 2-0 victory over Iceland was shortlisted along 17 others for the individual prize.

And on Wednesday, Fifa announced Pavard’s stunner against Argentina as the best in the tournament with Musa’s effort settling for the eighth spot.

The former CSKA Moscow man then took to the social media to appreciate his supporters for voting for him.

“I just want to thank you all for voting,” Musa wrote on Twitter.

“This goal is bigger than me it has shown the world that Nigeria has quality on the world stage and we look to improve in the future.

“I am humbled by the love and encouragement. Thank you all again.”

 

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