Should the Barcelona boss be concerned by his side’s thrashing at the hands of Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool? In a purely defensive sense, probably. Barça committed a series of errors in the 4-0 loss at Wembley and senior players Jérémy Mathieu, Aleix Vidal and Javier Mascherano were the worst culprits. Gerard Piqué steadied the ship from the bench on the hour mark and Lucas Digne put in a performance worthy of his name but shipping four goals against any side is not encouraging at this stage of pre-season. Doing so against a team that won by the same margin or more three times last season, against Aston Villa, Everton and Southampton (in the maligned League Cup), even less so. As Enrique understated after the game: “It wasn’t our best performance.”
Umtiti keen to get started
Fortunately for Enrique, not all of his defensive contingent were on hand in London. Samuel Umtiti, a 25-million-euro acquisition from Lyon, had the club’s permission to keep his feet up until Monday after his run to the final of the European Championship with France but the 22-year-old chose to train on Saturday instead while his teammates were being thrashed. The addition of the stylish central defender should sound the alarm bell for Mathieu, whose lack of pace was brutally exposed at Wembley.
Barça board not happy with Uefa award
Barcelona vice-president Jordi Mestre did not mince his words when approached by reporters in London for his opinion of the shortlist for the continental gong, which consists of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Antoine Griezmann: “The decision does not sit well with me at all. I don’t know what criteria Uefa have applied, with all respect to the chosen players, but I do not agree with it all. That players of ours like Messi or Suárez, for example, are not there is scandalous.”
Barça have a lot of defenders on the books and a few will have to be jettisoned before the season starts. The Belgium international looks set to be one as he puts the finishing touches on a move to AS Roma. Vermaelen’s Barça career never took off due a raft of injuries that limited him to one appearance in 2014-15 and a further 20 in all competitions last season. Roma have agreed a one-season loan deal with an option to buy, which Barça wanted to make obligatory. Unsurprisingly given his injury record, Roma preferred to adopt a wait and see approach.
Things just keep getting Arda
In a future list of “transfers that didn’t quite work out” that of Arda Turn from Atlético to Barça may be near the top. The Turkish schemer, who was mesmeric during his spell at the Calderón, has still to find his place in the Barcelona side and on the evidence of his shift against Liverpool, a recently mooted loan move to Anfield is unlikely to be enthusiastically pursued by Klopp. The Turkey international was given a roasting on social media after the game, with one wag suggesting Middlesbrough might be a more attainable destination.
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