Valverde marvels at Lionel Messi as Barcelona star continues to shine

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has heaped praise on the performances of Lionel Messi in the lead-up to the La Liga clash against Real Sociedad. The Blaugrana recently progress to the semi-final stage of the Champions League after a 4-0 aggregate triumph over Manchester United and Messi made a key contribution towards the outcome with a brace in the second leg.

Speaking in a pre-match conference, Valverde said that the club are enjoying the performances of Messi, who recently scored 40 goals for the tenth successive season, he said: "I would like to have an assortment of words but what can I say about Leo? He is breaking all the records, and those he will still beat. He makes the public always expect something special from him, and he delivers it. We know what he is, what he means from a global point of view and we are enjoying that."

Valverde confirms Lionel Messi will undergo examination on bruised nose

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has confirmed that Lionel Messi will undergo a medical examination on a bruised nose suffered during the first leg of the Champions League tie against Manchester United on the road. The Argentina international picked up the injury after he was clattered by Chris Smalling during the first period, and his performance was thereafter unimpressive with signs that he had not completely recovered from the blow.

Speaking after the game, Valverde said that Messi was far from comfortable with the proceedings on the field after he took a big blow on his nose through a Chris Smalling challenge. He added that a thorough examination over the same would be made by the club’s doctors to determine the extent of the damage, he told: “It’s clear that he was not more comfortable playing after that. He took a big blow and he will have to be examined by the doctors. We will have to see how Messi is, but he has a big bruise.”

Gabriel Jesus wows to keep fighting for Manchester City starting role

Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus has said that he will continue to compete with Sergio Aguero for the centre-forward role at the Premier League holders. The 21-year-old has been playing second fiddle to the Argentina international for most of the season, but this has not discouraged him from the quest to secure the striker’s position.

Speaking to Sky Sports News, Jesus acknowledged that he had made a meteoric rise with the Citizens over the past few years where he has already trophy success. He added that he remains grounded at his current age and there are no concerns regarding the regular bench role afforded to him this campaign.

Javier Saviola backs Lionel Messi to lead Argentina to World Cup success

Former Argentina international Javier Saviola believes Lionel Messi has the credentials to guide Argentina to success at the 2022 World Cup. The Barcelona star has failed to win a single international trophy through his career and he recently experienced disappointment at the summer World Cup where the nation were ousted at the round of 16 stage.

Speaking to Goal.com, he said: "Messi, unfortunately, has not yet managed to win any trophy or tournament for the national team and the Argentine fans are very demanding. I was Leo's colleague, I know what he feels about the country and how much it hurts when things don't go as he would like. The most important thing is to trust that everything will go well and I believe that the next World Cup will be for Argentina."

Gonzalo Higuain explains difference between Serie A and the Premier League

Argentina international Gonzalo Higuain has spoken about his time together with Maurizio Sarri at former club Napoli. The 31-year-old recently signed for Chelsea on a short-term loan from Juventus but the Blues have the option to extend the contract by a further 12 months, should they wish to do so.

Speaking to reporters, Higuain highlighted that he has a close relationship with Sarri from their Naples day with the Italian managing to understand him on the emotional point of view. He added to exhibit the difference between Serie A and Premier League by saying that defenders in England tend to regularly close down on the opposition when on possession of the ball.

Paul Dybala drops his opinion on the Cristiano Ronaldo-Lionel Messi debate

Juventus star Paulo Dybala has said that it is impossible to judge who is better between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi and the duo are influential in their own ways. Speaking to Telefoot, Dybala talked up the experience of playing with both Ronaldo and Messi at the club and international respectively and suggested that their performances are on par with each other.

He said: “I am lucky enough to have Cristiano at my club and Leo in my national team but it’s impossible to make a comparison between the two of them or say who is the best because they are at a level on a par with each other and well above everybody else and that has been the case for several years. They are different, they have enormous influence because they can decide games on their own and because of the effect they have on the opposition.”

Both Ronaldo and Messi shared a rivalry in the Spanish La Liga for nine seasons but that ended during the summer with the former making the switch to Juventus. Since then, the Portuguese had quickly adapted to the new surroundings and he has already become their main contributor for the Bianconeri as they seek to end their long wait for the Champions League crown.

Lionel Scaloni optimistic of Lionel Messi’s return with Argentina

Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni has revealed that he would be holding discussions with Lionel Messi at the turn of the year in order to convince the Barcelona star to return to the national team fold. The 31-year-old has declined to feature for the nation since their disappointing exit at the summer World Cup and during this period, Scaloni has taken interim charge of the country before earning the role on a permanent basis.

Speaking to reporters, Scaloni highlighted that he does not hold a regular communication line with the Barcelona superstar but they nevertheless have a fruitful connection between themselves. He added that fresh talks are planned with the attacker in the New Year after he previously met with his compatriot during the Copa Liberatores final in Madrid earlier in December.

Paulo Dybala emphasises the importance of Lionel Messi to Argentina

Juventus ace Paulo Dybala has stressed that Lionel Messi remains a key contributor for the Argentine national side but it is up to the Barcelona star to decide upon his return to international duty. The 31-year-old has not featured for his nation since the summer World Cup where they were largely disappointing before their round of 16 exit at the hands of Argentina.

Argentine legend fancies Mauro Icardi to become country’s leading frontman

Argentine legend Gabriel Batistuta believes Mauro Icardi should take the scoring mantle for the South America nation in the forthcoming years with Gonzalo Higuain having entered the latter stages of his professional career. Icardi was left disappointed during the summer after failing to make the World Cup squad and Argentina thereafter suffered a disappointing at the round of 16 stage.

Since then, interim manager Lionel Scaloni has gone with a young squad, which has included the likes of Icardi and Lautaro Martinez, and Batistuta has highlighted that the former has the credentials to make the difference for the country, he said: “I struggle in choosing one. My favourite striker has always been Higuain but he has played in three World Cups for Argentina, he has had his chances. Now I think it is Icardi’s turn, he has a lot of room to improve. Icardi, Dybala, and Simeone are all serious boys, they have a lot of will to improve and I think they are the future of the national team. Pipita has already given what he has to give.”

Vasquez's Form at Sevilla Finally Earns Him a Call Up

Franco Vasquez has been waiting a long time to represent his country of birth. The Sevilla midfielder featured for Italy back in March 2015 after receiving a call-up from Antonio Conte but he soon turned his back on the Azzurri and decided to wait patiently for his chance with the Albiceleste.

Earlier this year, the number ten finally got his chance to impress after getting the nod from interim coach Lionel Scaloni. He featured in his side's straightforward 3-0 success over Guatemala at the beginning of September and the 30-year old couldn't be happier to finally receive his first cap.

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