EPL

Guardiola believes Laporta will bring feel-good factor back to Barcelona

By Sports Desk March 09, 2021

Pep Guardiola has congratulated Joan Laporta on his election as Barcelona president and believes he will bring the feel-good factor back to Camp Nou.

Laporta was previously Barca president between 2003 and 2010, a spell that included hiring Guardiola to be head coach in 2008, starting an extraordinary run of success.

He has now returned to the role following a landslide election win over rivals Victor Font and Toni Freixa on Sunday.

One of his first points of business will be resolving the future of Lionel Messi, who has been strongly linked with a reunion with Guardiola at Manchester City, as well as Paris Saint-Germain.

Guardiola praised Laporta for his convincing win and believes his impact will be felt promptly.

"All I can say is that it was a lovely journey," said Guardiola when he was asked about Barca's election.

"All three options were there, they did a good job and I congratulate the president to be elected by a big margin. 

"I'm pretty sure his personality will introduce a good mood, a lot of optimism in the club and all the country.

"I wish him all the best for the season and the next seasons."

Guardiola won three LaLiga trophies and two Champions League titles in four seasons in charge of Barcelona, who are presently managed by Ronald Koeman.

Barca, like City, are in the Champions League last 16 but the Catalans face an uphill task to progress as they trail PSG 4-1 on aggregate.

They will play in Paris almost immediately after Guardiola and City - who are looking to bounce back from defeat to Manchester United - have hosted Southampton in the Premier League on Wednesday.

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    Dusan Vlahovic will bring the goals that Juventus have been missing this season, according to Marco Tardelli.

    Tardelli, the former Inter, Juventus and Italy midfielder, has no doubt Vlahovic - who seems set to join Juve from Fiorentina before the end of the transfer window - will be a success in Turin.

    Juve have struggled in attack this season, scoring just 34 times across 23 matches. That ranks them 11th in Serie A for goals scored, way behind Inter's league-leading 53. Their issues were on show for all to see on Sunday, when the Bianconeri managed just eight attempts against Milan, with none hitting the target in a 0-0 draw.

    Vlahovic has scored 17 league goals for Fiorentina this term in 21 appearances. In 2021, the 21-year-old equalled the record set by former Juve star Cristiano Ronaldo for the amount of Serie A goals scored in a calendar year with 33.

    "An important purchase. He has the qualities Juventus need. He will bring Max [Allegri] the goals Juve missed," Tardelli told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

    "You can see that he has something special even when he doesn't score, he is one who also plays for the team.

    "He has shown personality. He will improve even more thanks to his new team-mates, he can score more.

    "Will he feel the pressure? You never know the reaction upon joining a great team, but playing with higher-level people usually helps you."

    The Serbia international seems set to be Serie A's latest posterboy, but Tardelli does not believe Vlahovic can yet be compared to some of the league's greatest players.

    Tardelli added: "No to comparisons. I read about [Christian] Vieri, [Gabriel] Batistuta.

    "Not that [Vlahovic] has little talent, but they are players with another physical strength, who have more to rely on than he does."

    Allegri has consistently ruled Juve out of the title race this season. The Bianconeri sit fifth, a point behind Atalanta in fourth but 11 adrift of leaders and champions Inter.

    Tardelli says Juve need to strengthen in other departments to became a real force once again.

    "There is also a need for more, especially in midfield," he said. "Someone has to lend a hand to [Manuel] Locatelli. For next year, somebody must also be found for the defence, some changes must be made.

    "[Giorgio] Chiellini can't be eternal, I don't think they trust [Daniele] Rugani very much."

    Key to providing the ammunition for Vlahovic for the remainder of this season will be Paulo Dybala, who is yet to sign a new contract with Juve – his deal runs out at the end of the campaign.

    Tardelli believes Dybala must step up, despite the Argentina international being Juve's top scorer in all competitions this term with 11 goals, while nobody in the squad betters his 15 direct goal contributions.

    "One player like him is never too many," Tardelli said of Dybala. "Contractual issues will be dealt with, but he must prove that he is worth what he asks for.

    "Lately he has not been the leader Juventus needed. Too inconsistent. I don't know how much he was affected by COVID and how much by the renewal issue."

  • Rumour Has It: Juventus set for talks to thrash out Vlahovic deal Rumour Has It: Juventus set for talks to thrash out Vlahovic deal

    Dusan Vlahovic has drawn interest from Juventus, Arsenal and Tottenham among others.

    The 21-year-old has 18 months remaining on his contract and Fiorentina are keen to maximise their profit on him.

    Vlahovic has netted 38 goals in the past 18 months in Serie A.

    TOP STORY – FRESH TALKS ON VLAHOVIC DEAL

    Juventus are set for fresh talks on Thursday on a deal to sign Fiorentina's Vlahovic, reports Fabrizio Romano.

    The Serbia striker has attracted plenty of interest but an agreement between the Bianconeri and Fiorentina is in place.

    The stumbling block is Vlahovic's final contract and agent's fees, with a deal potentially set to trigger Alvaro Morata's exit to Barcelona, although Romano claims there are no new talks on that.

     

    ROUND-UP

    - Goal claims that Barcelona are working on a plan to raise €100million (£83m) in funds to lure Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland to the Catalan club. The Blaugrana are determined to win the race to sign Haaland despite interest from wealthy giants Real MadridManchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.

    - Bayern Munich's 32-year-old forward Thomas Muller has drawn interest from Newcastle United and Everton as he approaches the final year of his contract, claims Sport Bild.

    - L'Equipe claims that Bruno Guimaraes had told Lyon he wants to join Newcastle after the Magpies tabled a bid.

    - The Sun reports that Manchester United have put their search for a new manager on hold as they consider whether to make Ralf Rangnick's stay permanent.

    - Staying at United, numerous reports in England suggest Jesse Lingard is angry with the club as their demands have put off Newcastle's attempt to sign the player on loan.

    - Ousmane Dembele wants to stay at Barcelona after all, according to Sport. The France international's representatives met with Barca boss Xavi this week.

    - Tottenham's Tanguy Ndombele is set to join Valencia on loan, reports Telefoot.

  • Dortmund superstar Haaland believes he can 'improve on everything' Dortmund superstar Haaland believes he can 'improve on everything'

    Erling Haaland is widely recognised as one of the best strikers in the world, but he still believes he can "improve on everything" about his game.

    The Borussia Dortmund man has been strongly linked with a move to the likes of Manchester City, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, with reports suggesting he has a release clause of €75million that becomes active at the end of the season.

    Speaking to Sky Sports, Haaland may have further tempted those teams and any others who have the money to do a deal by suggesting he is far from the finished article.

    "I think I can improve on everything," he said. "If you say I am good at finishing, I can improve my finishing a lot. I can become faster, so I can improve that. I can become stronger, so I can improve that.

    "But if I should improve one thing, it would be to not get injured, because if I am not injured, I will play a lot more games and I will deliver even better. If you were to ask what my goals are for 2022, it is to not be injured, and the goals for the rest of my career are to not be injured. That's the main thing."

    Haaland has scored 80 goals in 79 games in all competitions since moving to Signal Iduna Park from Salzburg just over two years ago.

    Of players in Europe's top five leagues, only Bayern's Robert Lewandowski (107) has scored more in that time, having played in 11 more games than Haaland.

    The 21-year-old was named as part of the FIFPro World 11 at The Best FIFA Football Awards, where Lewandowski took home the top men's prize ahead of Lionel Messi and Mohamed Salah. Haaland was asked who his top three would have been.

    "I think you would have to say Lewandowski number one," he said, "Then you have, for me, [Karim] Benzema has also been amazing, but Messi has also been outstanding – so Benzema and Messi in shared second and third place."

    The Norway forward was also asked about his recent comments that Dortmund were forcing him to make a decision on his future as soon as possible.

    Haaland said in a post-match interview following last week's 5-1 win against Freiburg that the club "press me to make a decision now about my future", though Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke denied this.

    "I don't really want to say too much about it, but I felt it was time for me to say something," Haaland told Sky. "A lot of others were speaking – so that was it. Now, I don't want to say too much. I said what I said, and now we move on."

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