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Papers: Messi and Setién join forces to aim for the Champions League

The coach and his star man come to a crucial agreement that could give Barcelona a boost for Europe.

Domagoj Kostanjšak

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Photo by LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images

Today’s newspaper covers are all about Barcelona’s huge 0-5 victory over Deportivo Alavés that saw them officially conclude the 2019/20 LaLiga season. But there’s also a lot of talk about Lionel Messi – who won another Pichichi award for himself – and his reported reunion with Quique Setién that saw them put their differences aside to chase the Champions League trophy.

Sport are mostly celebrating Barça’s performance and they say the Catalans managed to conclude the season on a high, which should also restore some enthusiasm and spirit in the camp.

And of course, they mention the Argentine’s seventh and also record-breaking Pichichi award for the best goal-scorer in LaLiga as he beat Karim Benzema in the race and surpassed the legendary Telmo Zarra in the process as well.

Mundo Deportivo, on the other hand, are focusing on Messi and Setién, claiming they will put their assumed differences aside to join forces and march for the Champions League.

This time, the captain’s words were not as harsh as it was the case after the Osasuna defeat but he still believes self-criticism is key. However, after his reported meeting with the coach, they have identified their weaknesses and will work to solve them just in time for Europe.

And then, maybe and just maybe, Barcelona will be ready.

I’ve been a Barcelona fan for more than half of my life. What started as blind love is slowly turning into professional writing. Now, I get to write about Barca, analyse them, and voice my opinions on them across platforms. I’m happy to be a part of this big project.

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Koeman has ruled out the departure of Junior Firpo

Udhav Arora

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Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

According to a report published by SPORT, Ronald Koeman has ruled out any and all departures from the squad in the winter transfer window – barring Matheus Fernandes -, including that of Junior Firpo to AC Milan.

The report states that Barcelona are in a sketchy position and do not want to sell any players because signing replacements is getting increasingly tough. The signing of Eric Garcia remains scheduled for the summer when he will be signed on a free transfer, while Memphis Depay and Georginio Wijnaldum seem extremely unlikely.

Firpo was linked out of Barcelona, with both Italian capital clubs – Inter Milan and AC Milan tracking his progress in Spain. A loan move to Milan with a €20 million option to buy was looking extremely realistic. Still, without reinforcements in that position, Barcelona should not be letting the Spaniard leave in the winter.

The truth is, while Barcelona are in crippling debt, and desperately require players off their wage bill, selling low-earners like Firpo seemed like a bad idea. The plan was to let go of the former-Real Betis defender and hand Alejandro Balde his debut. However, at the age of 16, that is too much pressure to knight to a player.

That said, the club is still willing to listen to offers for Matheus Fernandes, who has been deemed surplus. The Brazilian joined from Palmeiras in what was termed yet another shady deal by the long-gone Josep Bartomeu. He has registered no more than 17 minutes this season, coming on against Dynamo Kyiv in the UEFA Champions League.

Matheus was not even given the chance to play against UE Cornella in the Copa del Rey and has spent 11 games on the bench this season following his lucky 17 minutes in the UCL. Deportivo Alaves are eyeing a loan move for the 22-year-old owing to their budget limitations, and Barcelona will be hoping to make this transfer a reality soon.

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