Neymar will struggle to emulate Messi – Luis Enrique

The Brazilian has shone in his second season at Camp Nou, but according to his coach faces an almost impossible task in matching the feats of his team-mate

Neymar will struggle to emulate Messi - Luis Enrique

Barcelona head coach Luis Enrique says Neymar will struggle to ever replicate Lionel Messi’s achievements at the club.

The Brazil captain, 22, has shone for the Catalans this season with 21 goals in all competitions in his second campaign at the club after joining from Santos in the summer of 2013.

That form that has already seen him mentioned as a possible early contender for the 2015 Ballon d’Or, but Luis Enrique feels Messi has set an almost impossibly high bar to for him surpass at Camp Nou.

“Neymar is with the right team to become an important figure,” said the Barca coach. “He is a unique and special player. We could see that when he was playing in Brazil.

“He is in the best team to do it [reach his potential], and we would like him to became an important figure.

“I cannot predict if we will be better than others in the future.

“Messi has set the bar so high with all that he has done, all that he is still doing and all that he will continue to do, and now he is the number one. But we will see in the future.”

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Moyes leaps to Bale’s defence

The coach has offered his support to the winger after he spurned two golden chances against his Real Sociedad side and was subsequently jeered by his own supporters

Moyes leaps to Bale's defence

Real Sociedad David Moyes has leapt to the defence of Real Madrid star Gareth Bale after he was again booed by his own fans on Saturday.

Moyes’ side took a surprise lead at the Santiago Bernabeu before a flurry of goals from the hosts, courtesy of James Rodriguez, Sergio Ramos and a double from Karim Benzema, saw the home side win 4-1
.

However, it was another disappointing afternoon for Bale, who was jeered by Madrid supporters for a second time this season after missing two golden chances for the European champions, with Carlo Ancelotti slamming his critics after the game.

Moyes also added his thoughts on the situation and was fulsome in his praise of the former Tottenham winger despite doing his best to ensure his side kept him at bay on Saturday.

“Gareth Bale is a fantastic player,” said Moyes. “He had a couple of chances to score and there is nothing to worry about him. I’m sure he will be someone great.”

The Scot was left to lament the gulf in quality between the Champions League holders and his side, while revealing that there will be no last-minute transfer deadline day buys should star striker Carlos Vela’s injury prove to be serious.

“We tried to play with the ball,” Moyes added.” We started the game very well, but there was a big difference in the quality of the teams.

“We don’t know what happens to Vela. We will run some tests tomorrow and see what is wrong with him. He is very important to us. We cannot find a substitute in the market, but we will do what we can if he cannot play for a while.”

I chose Roma to play with a monster like Totti – Doumbia

The imminent arrival at the Stadio Olimpico has revealed his admiration for the club captain, as well as praising the Giallorossi’s exciting brand of attacking football

I chose Roma to play with a monster like Totti - Doumbia

CSKA Moscow ace Seydou Doumbia has revealed that he has decided to join Roma in order to play alongside the “monster” that is Francesco Totti.

The Cote d’Ivoire forward is currently away on international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations but is nonetheless expected to complete a €15 million move to the Stadio Olimpico before the close of the winter transfer window.

Indeed, Doumbia cannot wait to join Rudi Garcia’s attack-minded side, admitting that he is particularly excited by the prospect of teaming up with the club’s iconic captain.

“I have chosen Roma for their offensive football and in order to play with a monster like Totti,” the forward is quoted as saying by the Corriere dello Sport.

Doumbia is already a familiar face to Giallorossi fans, having faced Roma twice during the group stage of this season’s Champions League.

The 27-year-old failed to net in either clash with the Serie A outfit but he did strike three times in two games against English champions Manchester City.

The Ivorian will fill the void left by Mattia Destro, who left Roma on loan to AC Milan with a view to a permanent move away from the capital this summer.

Tevez: I’m still leaving Juventus for Boca Juniors next year

The Argentine is a real fan favourite in Turin but he has no intention of going back on his longstanding plan to finish his career at La Bombonera

Tevez: I'm still leaving Juventus for Boca Juniors next year

Carlos Tevez had made it clear that he has not intention of extending his stay at Juventus and will return to Boca Juniors when his contract expires in 2016.

The Argentine penned a three-year contract upon joining the Bianconeri in the summer of 2013 and adapted wonderfully well to life in Serie A, firing the Old Lady to the Scudetto last season.

Tevez has proven even more prolific this term, with 13 goals in 19 league games, meaning the Juve faithful are understandably desperate to see the striker extend his stay in Turin.

However, the 30-year-old is intent on rejoining his first professional club, Boca, and is annoyed that the media have created such a furore over his future, given he never made a secret of his plan to return to La Bombonera.

“I’ve already said it many times,” he told Tuttosport. “For me, this discussion is closed.

“When I signed for three years with Juve, I said from the start, also to the club, that this would be my last contract before returning to Boca. But nobody said anything.

“Then, I said the same things again, including the fact I would return home at the end of my contract.

“But the problem is that when there is no news, they try to pull something out of nowhere.

“However, before leaving, I want to win it all here.”

Vidal tantrum not new in football, says Allegri

The coach played down the Chilean being upset at a recent substitution, insisting that reports of a fight between the two have been exaggerated

Vidal tantrum part of football, says Allegri

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri has stressed that Arturo Vidal’s tantrum at being substituted is simply “part of football”.

Allegri replaced Vidal with Paul Pogba after 70 minutes of Wednesday’s Coppa Italia quarter-final, which Juve won 1-0 thanks to a last-minute goal from Alvaro Morata.

Reports surfaced in the Italian media that the star Chilean midfielder was unhappy with Allegri, but the coach has come out battling by insisting that such touchline grievances are momentary and part of football.

“Fight between whom? Between myself and Vidal? I was surprised to read about it on Tuttosport, I believe it was Tuttosport,” Allegri told reporters.

“First of all the day after the game I didn’t talk with the player because he was absent during training and that’s because he had fitness issues to take care of.

“Also, during the game, he was substituted but then came back because he had to nurse a knee problem. Granted, the player can be upset when substituted, but it’s part of the game, it’s part of football.

“But no, there was no fight with Vidal simply because there was no need to clarify anything.”

Juventus are back in action on Sunday as they bid to maintain their lead at the top of Serie A with a trip to Udinese.

Troubled Toure’s distant behaviour raises questions over City future

The four-times African Footballer of the Year has looked out of sorts at the Afcon, unhappy with his team’s tactics as his former boss openly touts a move to Inter

Troubled Toure's distant behaviour raises questions over City future

Eight minutes before the end of Cote d’Ivoire’s 1-0 win against Cameroon on Wednesday Yaya Toure was taken off. It was the second time in three games that the supposed talisman of African football was replaced.

Yaya, who won the Confederation of African Football’s Footballer of the Year award for a fourth straight year just before the Africa Cup of Nations started, has not looked happy in Equatorial Guinea. He mumbled his way through a press conference before Cote d’Ivoire’s first game, a disappointing 1-1 draw with Guinea, and has not faced the press since, despite being captain.

He brushed past reporters after the Cameroon match saying only “there’s no problem, there’s no problem”, before boarding the team bus. He had needed treatment after a firm challenge by Stephane Mbia but will be fit to face Algeria in the quarter-finals on Sunday.

He is clearly not enjoying his role as a deep-lying midfielder, while his former boss at Manchester City, Roberto Mancini, is publicly discussing taking him to Inter.

The contrast with his elder brother, Kolo, could not be more noticeable. The Liverpool man has been a straight-backed, commanding presence who has clearly enjoyed his football. Kolo has been talkative, positive, confident and arguably the best defender of the tournament.

Yaya, on the other hand, has trudged off, shoulders slumped. He has worked hard, taken a few knocks, but has not yet controlled a game as he does for City.

On the day of the Cameroon game the Manchester Evening News carried the headline ‘Man City need to plan future without Yaya Toure’.

In Italy, Il Giornale published an interview with Yaya’s former manager, Robert Mancini, in which the Inter boss said: “He’s one of the best players in the world, he can still have his say. He played for many teams, in many leagues like Belgium, Spain, Russia, England. He only lacks Italy, this may be a good chance for him. We’re working on it. You know, there are some players who can change a team and Yaya is one of them. Next year we may try.”

Perhaps the transfer talk is bugging him. City reportedly harbour a lingering resentment over his behaviour last season, and have identified the likes of Paul Pogba and Ross Barkley as potential replacements.

Perhaps he is distracted by thoughts of missing Chelsea vs Manchester City on Saturday. Maybe he is simply not satisfied with his form or his role.

Herve Renard, the Cote d’Ivoire coach, talked about Yaya’s positioning ahead of the Cameroon match.

“Ivory Coast are not Manchester City,” he said. “The potential of the player is not the same.

“Manchester City have so many top-level players to defend, to build play very well, and Yaya can play further forward, behind the front two. It’s different for us. We do not have Fernandinho.

“We have to ask Yaya to do a different job, to play further back. But he is a professional, he will do as I ask. I explain what I want and he does it.

“Besides, he is very comfortable with this position, as he used to play there earlier in his career, especially at Barcelona.”

There was more of the same after the win that took Cote d’Ivoire through. This time, in response to questions about Cote d’Ivoire’s unadventurous performance, Renard said: “We are not Germany. We cannot attack all the time”.

The statistics show just how restrained Yaya has been. In 258 minutes on the pitch he has had one shot at goal, and that was not on target.  His passing has not been great, either – 27 of 140 attempts have gone astray.

Renard demanded more from Yaya after an “average” opening game. He helped to create Max Gradel’s equaliser against Mali in the second match, but Yaya was forced back again against Cameroon, as part of a successful defensive operation that denied the opposition a single attempt at goal.

Meanwhile Kolo has been talking about how much he enjoys guiding the new young defenders through a game, speaking of the strong spirit and confidence of a team in transition after the World Cup.

Before the tournament, Yaya said: “I have been lucky enough to win many trophies during my career but the Cup of Nations has always been my goal as an African.”

If he is going to win it this year, he needs to put his troubles behind him – whatever they are.

Mathieu confirms Messi-Luis Enrique training-ground row

The defender has lifted the lid on a heated argument involving the No.10 and his boss after the winter break\

Mathieu confirms Messi-Luis Enrique training-ground row

Barcelona defender Jeremy Mathieu has revealed that Lionel Messi and head coach Luis Enrique did have a training-ground argument earlier this month.

The prolific attacker has endured a difficult relationship with his coach ever since the latter’s return to Camp Nou ahead of the 2014-15 campaign, but both have so far refused to discuss the matter publicly, with club president Josep Bartomeu repeatedly insisting there is no problem between the two.

However, Mathieu has revealed than an incident took place shortly after Messi had returned from his Christmas break, after which Luis Enrique benched the Argentine, for the 1-0 loss versus Real Sociedad.

“It happened when we got back from our holidays. Suddenly, Leo lost his temper after a foul that was not given in training,” Mathieu told RMC. “Things got tense and they exchanged some angry words.

“Luis Enrique then approached him in the dressing room afterwards to talk to him and that was the end of it.”

Nevertheless, Mathieu was quick to stress that there has been no fallout and added that such incidents happen at every club.

“These kinds of things happen everywhere, but it’s made out to be a major thing because we are Barcelona,” the centre-half stated. “Things get blown out of proportion and that’s the problem.”

Irrespective of the ongoing speculation about his future at Barcelona, Messi has been a key figure for the Camp Nou side in 2014-15, scoring 31 goals in 29 appearances in all competitions.