Lionel Messi should be banned from football, jokes Carlos Queiroz

David Cooper 28/02/2018
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World-beater: Lionel Messi.

Former Real Madrid boss and Manchester United assistant coach has joked that footballing legend Lionel Messi should be banned by FIFA, in a move which would help his Iran side in this summer’s World Cup!

Argentina and Iran will go head-to-head in the Group Stages in Russia – four years on from when a stoppage-time Messi strike gave the South American side a 1-0 victory against the minnows in Brazil.

“I’ve always said that Messi is an extraordinary player,” Iran boss Queiroz said, when asked about the five-time Ballon d’Or winner in an interview with FIFA.com. “He’s out of this world. If he were human, he wouldn’t have had that magical moment in that match.

“I don’t usually like losing, but I didn’t come away from that defeat with a negative feeling. It’s when something magical like that happens that you know that football is alive and kicking, and that’s why it’s one of the best sports in the world to watch.

“And it’s even more of a special moment when it comes from a player who shouldn’t be allowed to play by FIFA until it’s proven that he’s actually human!”

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Ousmane Dembele travelled 4,355 kilometres on two days off from Barcelona training

David Cooper 27/02/2018
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Ousmane Dembele

Barcelona attacker Ousmane Dembele made the most of his time off from the pitch by flying an incredible 4,355 kilometres in two days, following Blaugrana’s 6-1 home hammering of Girona.

After completing 90 minutes for the runaway La Liga leaders on Saturday night, Dembele and the rest of his Barcelona team-mates, were handed Sunday off, as usual, as well as Monday.

And, after undertaking a recovery session on Sunday morning, the former Borussia Dortmund ace travelled to Marrakech for personal reasons, according to Marca.

The 20-year-old caught up with friends and enjoyed a night out, before flying to Paris on Monday morning.

Dembele, who has recently returned from injury, is due to be back in training on Tuesday ahead of Barca’s away trip to Las Palmas on Thursday.

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Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele take "big steps" forward in Barcelona win

David Cooper 25/02/2018
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Barcelona star Philippe Coutinho

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde believes blockbuster buys Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele have taken “steps forward” after their contributions in the 6-1 win over Girona on Saturday.

Coutinho and Dembele lined-up alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez for the first time with the attacking quadrant crucial in the rout.

The Brazilian plundered his first La Liga goal with a trademark curled effort before setting up Luis Suarez while Dembele also laid on an assist for the Uruguayan’s hat-trick goal.

Messi netted twice and his sparkling performance dominated the headlines but Valverde was keen to highlight the progress made by his two star signings.

“When a player scores as Coutinho did he gains more and more confidence, which is what a player is always looking for,” Valverde said.

“They are players who have to help us and who are already doing it, each with their own characteristics.

“Dembele has a more extreme profile, he brings more depth [to Barcelona’s play] but he has had problems with injuries and skipped that period of adaptation. That’s why he’s still getting used to the team.

“Coutinho plays very well in the inside game. I think both have taken a step forward today.”

Aside from his treble, Suarez was the subject of post-match debate after appearing to deliberately attempt to earn a yellow card which would have resulted in a suspension for the midweek trip to Las Palmas.

Barca host Atletico Madrid in a clash of La Liga’s top two the following weekend and Suarez is one booking away from hitting his accumulative limit.

Jordi Alba will miss the Las Palmas fixture after he was carded but on the situation Valverde said: “They are moments of the game and the referee decides.

“I have nothing to say about that. If we have a setback due to an accumulation of bookings, another player will play. We’ll decide what we do.”

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