Eibar have made Marc Cucurella's loan from Barcelona permanent after triggering their purchase option following an impressive debut season in LaLiga.

Left-back Cucurella had been an important player for Barca's second string, but they allowed him to depart on loan this season and Eibar have taken up the option to keep him, reportedly paying €2million.

The 20-year-old featured 31 times in the league, nailing down a first-team role on the left flank as his energetic style of play and penchant for darting runs saw him catch the eye.

Cucurella scored his only goal in the 2-2 draw with parent club Barca on the final day of the season.

Although Eibar have triggered their option on Cucurella, Barca are rumoured to be planning on buying the player back in order to sell him on for a bigger profit, or alternatively to compete with Jordi Alba in the first-team squad.

Barca's buy-back clause is rumoured to be €4m.

Manchester United battered Barcelona for nine minutes, with Cristiano Ronaldo roving maniacally in apparent pursuit of some sort of Champions League final shots record.

It was time for Pep Guardiola to again make the switch that helped to destroy Real Madrid earlier that month: Lionel Messi inside to false nine – a long forgotten position his exquisite Barca team and mercurial forward were beginning to revive.

Samuel Eto'o shuffled from centre-forward to the right of the front three and duly opened the scoring. Messi belied his diminutive stature to net a wonderful second-half header and Barcelona unseated reigning European kings United 2-0, adding the most satisfying part of a historic 2008-09 treble.

Ten years on, the ripples from that captivating night at Rome's Stadio Olimpico can still be felt across modern football. For the outstanding coach and player of their generation, it was the night it became clear everything was possible.

Messi unleashed

The season that earned Messi the first of his five Ballons d'Or was undoubtedly a watershed moment in his career.

Prior to Guardiola's arrival the Argentinian kid with a fondness for pizza and fizzy drinks had suffered frequent injury problems. The 2008-09 campaign was the first where he appeared in more than 30 LaLiga matches.

It was also the first time he broke through 20 top-flight goals. Only twice in the intervening years has he failed to net more than 30.

Messi's game, as with all true greats, has continued to evolve. While he was the most dazzling cog in Guardiola's whirring 2008-09 machine, he now carries Barca on his slight shoulders to a greater degree than ever before.

It feels like heresy to suggest Messi might have become simply the latest "next Diego Maradona", a shimmering talent waylaid by injury and expectation. But that was a possibility 10 years ago.

The Champions League final against United coming hot on the heels of him inspiring a 6-2 routing of Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu demonstrated he was so much more. That he did it within Guardiola's intricate team structure was perhaps the most compelling element.

Messi looked like a superstar entirely at odds with the Galactico age. In that sense he was completely in tune with his coach.

Winning Romanticism

Guardiola's swift salvage job at Barcelona after success had turned to excess under Frank Rijkaard, primarily through giving a tranche of outstanding youngsters their head, is a well-worn tale.

However, the wider footballing landscape in which he prevailed was just as important in establishing the meticulous Catalan as this decade's foremost tactical influencer.

This was the age of 4-2-3-1 – power, pace, pragmatism and confirmation of an accepted basic truth. Flair and invention would always capture the imagination and maybe even win occasionally, but organisational and solidity were the foundation of major titles.

Bolt on a superstar signing or two in an era of ever-spiralling transfer fees and you satisfied both factions, or at least tried to. Real Madrid's "Zidanes y Pavones" model of combining hard-working local players with global superstar yielded mixed results.

The difference with Guardiola's La Masia graduates was his "Pavones" – the label given life by unremarkable Madrid defender Francisco Pavon, the unassuming face of the other side of the Galactico coin – included Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta, players every bit as good as Zinedine Zidane.

Guardiola updated Johan Cruyff's Barcelona vision of slick passing and positional play with some of his own influences – namely tactical fundamentalists such as Marcelo Bielsa, Juan Manuel Lillo and Ricardo La Volpe, men romantically attached to their principles of how the game should be played, seemingly at the expense of major honours. Guardiola winning because of, and not despite, those virtues was revelatory.

It captured the imagination of fans everywhere, including some men with very deep pockets.

Petrol and ideas

Fast forward to Manchester City's domestic treble this season and the reaction in some quarters to Guardiola's latest masterpiece has been very different. He is the darling of the romantics no more.

Critics have expressed distaste that City's back-to-back Premier League points hauls of 100 and 98 come fuelled by an Abu Dhabi fortune, fearing their dominance to be a demonstration of a game broken beyond repair. This aspect of coverage seems to have troubled Guardiola, whose commitment to playing the "right" way – as Cruyff would see it – has always projected an element of football moralism.

Big finance and big success have long been easy bedfellows but the focus of City's spending – leaving aside its sources and any outcome of ongoing investigations – is significantly different because Guardiola was always their priority signing. His system suitably fitted out guaranteed success in a way that simply punting on the latest superstars would not.

Arsene Wenger's observation of City having "petrol and ideas" remains pertinent and the influence of the methods European football first fell for in Rome are easy to spot far beyond Manchester.

Bayern Munich, steeped in their own historically successful style, grabbed a piece of the action as Guardiola led them to three consecutive Bundesliga titles between 2013-14 and 2015-16. When he left Germany's top flight, his nearest rival was Borussia Dortmund's Thomas Tuchel. A disciple of the positional style, Tuchel is now trying to bring ideological focus to Paris Saint-Germain's own petrol.

Back at Barcelona, Gerard Pique this week dismissed suggestions that a dispiriting end to the season is in part down to a turn away from Guardiola's style.

The Champions League final will be contested by Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool and Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham – coaches who have come closer than most to finding the Guardiola antidote, but who similarly demonstrate the prime importance of a high-tempo, hard-working collective. Like Guardiola, they are the single most important people at their clubs. Real Madrid's mooted €500m spending spree on the biggest names looks a strangely dated approach by comparison.

Such cycles invariably come to an end, but for the foreseeable future football's course remains set by the magic Messi and his colleagues weaved so irresistibly 10 years ago.

Matthijs de Ligt insists his next destination remains undecided as Barcelona and Manchester United reportedly battle for the star defender's signature.

The 19-year-old Netherlands international is one of the most wanted players in Europe and his impending departure from Ajax was confirmed by Erik ten Hag in April.

Where he will end up, however, continues to be a matter for debate, with speculation in recent weeks suggesting United could trump LaLiga champions Barca with a big-money bid.

Questions have been raised over just how much both clubs are willing to pay for the centre-back's services and the player himself is keeping all options open.

"Where do I see myself? Well, obviously the Premier League is a big competition, Spain also," De Ligt told reporters from a Netherlands training camp.

"But you have other competitions, it's not just about those two.

"I still don't know anything about where my future is, so I'll see how it goes. First we have to play two games and then after that I will see what happens next."

De Ligt heads into the off-season fresh from skippering Champions League semi-finalists Ajax to the Eredivisie title.

He and Ronald Koeman's Oranje side are preparing for a Nations League date with England on June 6, the winner of which will face either Switzerland or hosts Portugal in the final.

Luis Suarez has issued an angry response to questions over his commitment to Barcelona after he missed the Copa del Rey final due to knee surgery.

The Uruguay striker opted to have an operation on a meniscus problem in his right knee just days after the Champions League semi-final exit at the hands of Liverpool.

It meant the 32-year-old could not play in Barca's last two LaLiga games of the season against Getafe and Eibar and also sat out the Copa del Rey final on Saturday, in which Valencia claimed a 2-1 win.

There have been suggestions Suarez chose to have treatment in order to be fit for the Copa America in Brazil and would not have done so had Barca reached the Champions League final, but he has slammed those suggestions.

In a statement released on social media, Suarez described the day after the loss to Valencia as a "day of sadness and disappointment" but insisted he was "very proud of all of [his team-mates], who tried everything possible to give our fans a joy".

He then explained: "I am not much of clarifying things that are said about me and that reach people, but this time I see myself with the obligation to do it, since I believe that many of the things that are being said are with bad intention and question my professionalism.

"This year I started the season with discomfort in the cartilage, which many people already know, and with the GREAT WORK of the club's medical staff I managed to endure without any problem. To all of them, thank you very much for your work and dedication.

"That is why I want to clarify, especially to all those who seem to want to hurt me, that the injury that led me to undergo surgery has absolutely nothing to do with the cartilage, but because of a meniscus tear that I suffered in the tie against Liverpool. That is why I was forced to go through the operating room and miss the final yesterday against my will.

"I have shown every day since I arrived at this club that I am 100 per cent involved, I give it all in every training [session] and in every match for this shield [badge]. Because it has always been and it is my dream to be here!"

An emotional Dani Parejo was lost for words after Valencia defeated Barcelona to win the Copa del Rey final on Saturday.

Kevin Gameiro and Rodrigo Moreno put Marcelino's side ahead at the Benito Villamarin and, although Lionel Messi halved the deficit, Valencia held firm to claim a 2-1 victory and lift the trophy.

It is the first piece of silverware for the club since they last won the Copa back in 2008 and brought a remarkable season to a special end in Seville.

Having been 10 points off the top four in LaLiga at the halfway stage of the season, and with pressure mounting on head coach Marcelino, Valencia enjoyed a stirring second half of 2018-19, claiming a top-four finish and reaching the Europa League semi-finals before their triumph over Barca.

Parejo was in tears after the final whistle and later admitted it was a special moment for everyone concerned with the club, which has been celebrating its centenary this year.

"This is something incredible for my family," he said, as quoted by Superdeporte.

"We've been through a lot of bad times. A club like Valencia deserves a lot more joy.

"I have no words. We've made history by winning the Copa in a year as significant as the centennial.

"I said yesterday it was an incredible year, whatever happens, thanks to the Valencia fans, because they believed from the first moment. I have always believed in this group. The party is one for everyone."

Goalkeeper Jaume Domenech thanked those fans who continued to back Marcelino's efforts even when the season looked destined to end in disappointment.

"We're eager to thank them for not letting us fall at the start of the season, when things weren't going so well," he said.

"I dreamed of winning a trophy with Valencia when I was small. I'm a lifelong Valencian and I'm happy my name is in the club's history forever."

Midfielder Carlos Soler, who set up what proved to be the winner from Rodrigo, added: "I'm dizzy from celebrating so much!

"I've been waiting for something like this for a long time. This is a dream."

Valencia coach Marcelino revelled in the "happiest day" of his career after beating Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final on Saturday.

First-half goals from Kevin Gameiro and Rodrigo helped Valencia to an upset 2-1 victory in Seville, securing the club's eighth Copa crown.

Lionel Messi scored in the second half for Barca, but Valencia held on to give Marcelino his first trophy since taking charge in May 2017.

The former Sevilla and Villarreal boss, who led Recreativo to the Segunda Division title in 2005-06 for his only other trophy, was delighted.

"It's the happiest day of my career. It's the win. There is always a first final and a first win," Marcelino told a news conference.

"I thank the players, the coaching staff, my family... Everyone has helped me become the happiest person in the world on a professional level.

"Last year was magnificent. We started this year badly – or not well, let's say – because we were competing even when the results weren't there. That suffering has given us this.

"The players gave me the opportunity to win this. The love and gratitude that we have is mutual."

Marcelino was under pressure earlier in the season after Valencia claimed just one win from their opening 11 LaLiga games, but they recovered to finish fourth.

The 53-year-old was thankful to the club and his players after turning their season around.

"In moments of difficulty, the players showed their support for me. I was grateful for that and I'll never forget it," Marcelino said.

"It wasn't easy for the club to place so much confidence in me, and it wasn't easy to turn the situation around the way that we did.

"It's been shown that I wasn't so bad before, nor am I so good now."

Ernesto Valverde seemingly has no plans to quit as Barcelona coach despite growing fan unrest and Saturday's Copa del Rey final defeat to Valencia.

Marcelino's side ran out 2-1 winners at the Benito Villamarin in Seville, with Kevin Gameiro and Rodrigo Moreno netting in the first half to render Lionel Messi's tap-in after the break immaterial.

Defeat means Barca end the season with only the league title to their name, despite appearing to have a strong chance of winning the treble just a few weeks ago.

A shock Champions League elimination at the hands of Liverpool, a tie in which they won the first leg 3-0, saw the discontent from fans towards Valverde increase significantly and that situation is unlikely to improve after Barca failed to clinch an unprecedented fifth successive Copa del Rey crown.

Nevertheless, with president Josep Maria Bartomeu indicating Valverde is safe from the axe, the coach appears relaxed about his future.

"I feel good, but when you win, you are happier," Valverde said. "The reading of the game is different from the one we played 15 days ago, but the reality is that we have lost again.

"We have not fulfilled the expectations created. We thought about the treble and we lost ourselves on the road at the decisive moment. It is evident that we are here to win titles.

"I'm fine, what we – the coaches – want is a rematch, to fight to have a challenge ahead.

"I know that losing is hard, something has failed. This responsibility is difficult and it has to be assumed."

Barcelona's Copa del Rey final defeat to Valencia on Saturday was not the fault of under-pressure coach Ernesto Valverde, according to the club's president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

A 2-1 defeat at Real Betis' Benito Villamarin in Seville left Barca feeling as though the 2018-19 season has been something of an underachievement despite retaining their LaLiga crown.

Just a few weeks ago, after beating Liverpool 3-0 in the Champions League semi-final first leg, Barca looked entirely capable of winning the treble.

But they were humiliatingly beaten 4-0 by Liverpool in the return leg and Saturday's loss robbed them of a domestic double, with Kevin Gameiro and Rodrigo Moreno putting the game beyond Barca despite Lionel Messi pulling one back.

Valverde's suitability has been called into question by many supporters since the humbling Liverpool loss, but Bartomeu backed the head coach.

Speaking to reporters after the game, Bartomeu said: "We have always said that Ernesto has a contract for next season.

"I do not think he's the culprit. We had many opportunities, but they did not find the net. But count the goals and Valencia scored one more than us.

"It is not a season of excellence, but [nor is it one] of failure. We have reached the final of the Copa, the semi-finals of Champions League.

"In the end, we lost two games, but we are out of the Champions League and we are Copa runners-up."

Gerard Pique conceded Barcelona's season felt bittersweet after it concluded with a surprise 2-1 Copa del Rey final defeat to Valencia.

Marcelino's side, who shared a pair of draws with the champions in LaLiga this term, tore into their illustrious opponents and deservedly led 2-0 at the interval through goals from Kevin Gameiro and Rodrigo Moreno.

Pique also completed a remarkable goal-line clearance to deny Gameiro and, although Barca belatedly hit their stride, Lionel Messi's 73rd-minute finish from close range was all they had to show for their efforts.

Despite cantering to an eighth title in 11 seasons in Spain's top flight, Saturday's loss coming on the back of Barca's stunning Champions League semi-final elimination at the hands of Liverpool has had a sapping effect.

"It was a good year because the league was won, but the expectations a few weeks ago were to make a much better year," Pique told reporters.

"We leave with that bittersweet taste that the season could have been much better."

The result is likely to invite further scrutiny for head coach Ernesto Valverde.

Pique reiterated that the former Athletic Bilbao boss retains dressing room backing but added Valverde's fate is not in the hands of the players.

"The future of the coach does not worry us, we have to do an individual and collective analysis," he said.

"We have already said that we would like the coach to continue because he has done a great job, but they are decisions that are not in our hands.

"We have a long summer to analyse what can be done better."

Barcelona were denied an unprecedented fifth successive Copa del Rey crown as they lost 2-1 to Valencia in Saturday's final, heaping the pressure on under-fire coach Ernesto Valverde.

Having had a realistic chance at a treble just a few weeks ago, Barca finish the season with only the league title to show for their efforts, a situation likely to increase Valverde's unpopularity among supporters.

Barca were way off their best in the first half at the Benito Villamarin and deservedly found themselves trailing 2-0 at the break, as Kevin Gameiro and Rodrigo Moreno clinically punished the defending champions.

Valverde's men pushed forward desperately after the break and Lionel Messi pulled one back shortly after being denied by the post, but their dominance proved futile as Valencia held on to win the Copa for the first time since 2008.

The warning signs were there for Barca after just five minutes, as Gameiro pressured Clement Lenglet into a wayward pass at the back and Rodrigo pounced, skipping past Jasper Cillessen and seeing his effort blocked on the line by Gerard Pique.

Neither Cillessen nor Pique could spare Barca 16 minutes later, however, as Jose Gaya charged forward on the break and picked out Gameiro, who shook off Jordi Alba and blasted home.

Rodrigo doubled the lead just past the half-hour mark, heading in Carlos Soler's inch-perfect cross from close range.

Malcom and Arturo Vidal were introduced for Nelson Semedo and Arthur at half-time, as Barca pushed for a comeback.

Messi remained the one to watch, though, hitting the left-hand post with a gorgeous outside-of-the-boot effort just before the hour after a one-two with Malcom.

But he was not to be denied in the 73rd minute, as Messi tapped in after Lenglet's header came back off the upright.

Valencia squandered two chances to finish Barca off on the break deep into stoppage time, as Goncalo Guedes put wide when one-on-one and also missed an open goal from distance, but they held on to consign Barca to a disappointing end of the season.


What does it mean? Valverde's future surely in doubt

If Valverde's popularity was not already a matter for debate, it certainly is now. With a LaLiga and Copa double, you could justifiably see him hanging on to the job for another season, but now things look a little cloudier, particularly given the increasing fan criticism of his leadership.

Arguably the only thing saving him at the moment is Messi's apparent backing.

Rodrigo and Gameiro lead by example

They got the goals, but Rodrigo and Gameiro did so much more as well. The pair led the line brilliantly, never giving Barca's defence a moment's rest, while their link-up play – with each other and the rest of the team – was exceptional.

Clement's long day

It started poorly for Lenglet, as the Frenchman made an awful error after just five minutes from which Valencia should have scored. He rarely looked comfortable thereafter, with Gameiro and Rodrigo giving him the runaround.

What's next?

Given they finished the season with just one trophy, a big close-season awaits Barca. There are doubts about Valverde's suitability, while their squad is short in a number of areas, such as centre-forward and full-back. As for Valencia, if they can keep hold of their star players and bolster their squad for the Champions League, they will be confident of another promising campaign next term.

Philippe Coutinho, Nelson Semedo and Arthur all start for Barcelona against Valencia in the Copa del Rey final on Saturday after recovering from injuries just in time.

Coutinho has endured a particularly difficult season for Barca, with supporters regularly getting on his back in response to underwhelming performances.

He had been considered a major doubt for the final after sustained a hamstring injury against Getafe on May 12, but Barca announced earlier on Saturday the Brazilian had been given the all-clear.

With transfer links to other clubs surfacing recently, while Antoine Griezmann has been reported as a potential replacement for him, it gives Coutinho the perfect opportunity to silence the doubters.

His international team-mate Arthur's season has been completely the opposite, with the former Gremio star seamlessly adapting to life in Camp Nou.

Arthur had been struggling with muscular problems, but he will slot into the midfield as normal.

Semedo had been a doubt after a head knock, though serious injury was soon ruled out.

Valencia have named an attack-minded XI in a 4-4-2 formation, with Kevin Gameiro and Rodrigo Moreno leading the line, supported by Goncalo Guedes and Carlos Soler out wide.

Full-backs Jose Gaya and Daniel Wass – usually a midfielder – will be expected to offer support in attack as well, as Valencia go for their first Copa del Rey since 2007-08.

Virgil van Dijk is hoping Liverpool can top their "nuts" semi-final against Barcelona in the Champions League final next week.

The Reds, led by centre-back Van Dijk, overturned a 3-0 first-leg deficit with a 4-0 win at Anfield in the return fixture to advance 4-3 on aggregate, reaching the final for the second year running.

Last season, though, the joy of beating Roma was followed by the devastation of defeat to Real Madrid in Kiev.

Van Dijk is determined that this time, against Premier League rivals Tottenham in Madrid, Liverpool will finish the job, building on the Barca match.

"I could not sleep much [after Barcelona], maybe two hours," the defender told the Guardian. "It was totally crazy.

"From the moment we arrived at the stadium, you had the feeling it could be something special. When Divock Origi scored that early goal, you could feel the belief. Everything was perfect that night.

"It wasn't like we had luck. We totally deserved it because anyone would say a team 3-0 down against Barcelona is not going to do it. Messi's going to score - and if they scored one, it was almost impossible.

"But we did it. It was nuts. You can't really describe it. Hopefully we can finish it off now and make an even bigger memory."

Glory in Europe would provide a fitting end to a season in which Liverpool excelled in the Premier League but fell just short of matching champions Manchester City.

However, Van Dijk insists their ultimate failure to deliver silverware in the league will not impact the side's thinking against Spurs.

"We're not thinking about losing or how we're going to overcome this barrier of losing the Premier League by one point, then losing the Champions League," he said.

"That’s not worth thinking about. I'm thinking about playing to our best ability with all our talent and experience.

"I read that if we win the Champions League, our next two games are the Community Shield and European Super Cup. We can win three cups in three games. It's something we strive for.

"We were close in the Premier League, but now we have a chance to win the Champions League, the big one. We're going to give it everything we've got."

Uruguay head coach Oscar Tabarez is confident star forward Luis Suarez will be fit for the Copa America in Brazil.

Suarez, who scored 25 goals in all competitions this season, will miss Barcelona's Copa del Rey final against Valencia on Saturday after undergoing knee surgery.

The surgery put Suarez in doubt for next month's Copa America – with Uruguay set to open their campaign against Ecuador on June 16 – however Tabarez has "high hopes".

"I think yes, I hope so, he's working well," Tabarez told reporters when asked if Suarez will be fit for the tournament. "I can't give you details but he keeps us updated through videos and images.

"He's working on his recovery and I know the meaning Luis gives to these things, I know he'll give 100 per cent to be fit when the competition starts.

"I don't want to rush, injuries are always due to circumstances, not to the players' will, he's got his mind set on the recovery.

"He's very professional about it and he has a good record on it, so I have high hopes to have him ready on our team, he's very important to us."

Uruguay – who reached the 2018 World Cup quarter-finals – failed to progress beyond the group stage of the Copa America three years ago.

For the 2019 edition, Uruguay will face Ecuador, defending champions Chile and guests Japan in Group C.

Lionel Messi claimed his sixth European Golden Shoe thanks to his 36 LaLiga goals for Spanish champions Barcelona.

Messi clinched the award – handed to the player with the most league goals in any of Europe's top-flight leagues – for the third consecutive year, beating Kylian Mbappe by three following Paris Saint-Germain's defeat Friday.

Mbappe needed to score five goals in PSG's Ligue 1 finale to collect the Golden Shoe, however, the French sensation could only manage one in a 3-1 loss at Reims.

Messi now has two more Golden Shoes than Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, who last won the award in 2014-15.

The 31-year-old Messi led Barca to back-to-back LaLiga titles ahead of Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid this season.

Messi and Barcelona will face Spanish rivals Valencia in the Copa del Rey final Saturday.

Ernesto Valverde insisted there has been enough talk about his future ahead of Barcelona's Copa del Rey final against Valencia.

Barca can complete a second consecutive double under Valverde by defeating Valencia in Seville on Saturday, but pressure has built on the head coach since their latest Champions League collapse away at Liverpool.

Having let a 4-1 first-leg lead slip in the quarter-finals against Roma last year, the Blaugrana saw a 3-0 advantage overturned by Jurgen Klopp's side in the last four this season.

President Josep Maria Bartomeu has offered Valverde his backing, though, while captain Lionel Messi also spoke out in support of the coach on Friday.

Valverde concedes he must accept some responsibility for a defeat that has overshadowed their success this season, but he is keen to set the topic aside until after the final.

"I do not think too much about my future," he told a news conference. "The only thing that worries me is to win [against Valencia]. Every day is a battle.

"If you look around the coaches in LaLiga, we are part of the show. We all get ups and downs. You only have to see what happened to [Valencia coach] Marcelino, who had a moment, or [Real] Madrid changing coach.

"I do not know about Leo Messi defending me. We are all aware that, when there is an elimination, we must all take responsibility, the players, the coaches, all of us. We are hurt, but we have to look forwards and face the consequences again.

"I do not feel any more pressure. Why would I? I've always said that the club respects my work and it's always been like that. I have no complaints from the president or the board."

Pushed further on the issue, Valverde told reporters he had provided all the answers required on his future.

Meanwhile, the coach was expecting Nelson Semedo and Arthur to train ahead of the final and was hopeful on the fitness of Philippe Coutinho.

Valverde insisted he knew nothing in relation to the report the final will be Jasper Cillessen's last match for the club amid reported interest from Benfica.

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