Bartomeu clinches comfortable win in elections for Barca president

David Cooper 19/07/2015
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Reign continues: Josep Maria Bartomeu beat main rival Joan Laporta by over 10,000 votes.

Voting in the Barcelona presidential elections closed Saturday night with incumbent Josep Maria Bartomeu claiming a comfortable victory.

The 52-year-old Bartomeu, who took over as president early last year after his predecessor Sandro Rosell stepped down, will lead the reigning Spanish and European champions for the next six years after garnering 54.63 per cent of the votes cast.

Polls opened at 09:00 local time with almost 110,000 members entitled to vote. However, the actual turnout was 47,720 or around 43.1 per cent.

Barcelona, just like their rivals Real Madrid but in contrast to other leading European clubs, are owned by their members – of whom there are more than 150,000 in total – and elections are usually held every six years.

However, this election was called a year early by Bartomeu at a time when tensions inside the club were running high because of poor relations between Barca coach Luis Enrique and star player Lionel Messi – something that was remedied when they won the treble of Champions League, La Liga and Copa del Rey in the spring.

The team’s success on the field and the club’s success off it, with Barcelona returning a record profit of €608 million (Dh2.4bn), meant Bartomeu didn’t face any serious threat from main rival Joan Laporta, a former president. 

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Laporta only managed to attract 33.03 per cent of the votes while the other two hopefuls in the race –  businessman Agusti Benedito and lawyer and former club spokesman Toni Freixa ended up with 7.16 and 3.7 per cent of the votes respectively.
“We must continue to be the number one club and these six years are very important,” Bartomeu said after casting his vote yesterday.

Laporta was in charge from 2003-10 and has to his credit that he appointed Pep Guardiola to the coaching job in 2008 – a decision which sparked a trophy-laden spell of success – although his financial record has been criticised. 

Laporta had earlier attacked Bartomeu for standing despite facing criminal charges along with Rosell.

“We must continue to be the number one club” – Bartomeu 

“We have two men, Mr Bartomeu and (his predecessor Sandro) Rosell, who are being pursued for corruption…if they had a minimum of decency they would not stand,” Laporta had said.

Rosell, a former ally of Laporta’s before the two fell out in 2005, resigned last year when investigations began into alleged misappropriation of funds in the signing of Neymar. Bartomeu, who had been the vice-president, stepped up to replace Rosell but in May a court ordered him to stand trial along with the club in the Neymar case.

Barcelona are currently serving a FIFA-imposed transfer ban that means any new signings cannot play for the club until 2016.

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#360view: Real should accept United's demands for De Gea

Alex Rea 18/07/2015
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Future remains in doubt: David de Gea.

More than 70 per cent of Real Madrid supporters believe the club should not buy David de Gea from Manchester United this summer – and they are all wrong.

In a poll run by Spanish newspaper Marca, 13,000 voted in favour of the La Liga giants waiting one more year to take him on a free in 2016. But why wait? 

The current impasse between the two clubs is over a) their respective valuations of De Gea and b) the complications of United’s interest in Sergio Ramos.

The Reds are said to want a world-record fee for a goalkeeper to prise him away. Madrid should break the bank and pay whatever it takes if they’re unwilling to part with Ramos. There are things happening in sport right now that have an air of inevitability about them. 

England’s batting collapse at Lord’s, Jordan Spieth hunting for major honours and the transfer of De Gea to Madrid. 

It’s going to happen, it’s just a question of when. He’s young, and arguably there are only two goalkeepers who are better than him at the moment: Manuel Neuer and Thibaut Courtois. 

Behind those two is a collection of very good ‘keepers – Tottenham’s Hugo Lloris is one of them – and De Gea is firmly in that group. 

For Madrid he is the perfect fit. At just 24-years-old, it’s quite feasible that he could be Madrid’s first-choice stopper for the next decade.

On top of that, he’s Spanish and sooner or later will become Vicente del Bosque’s No1 in the national side. Surely the thought must have crossed his mind that he could achieve legendary status in his homeland?      

Surely he recognises there is a preference for the first-choice goalkeeper of Spain to play for Real or Barcelona. Yes, the job wouldn’t be out of his reach in England, but it would certainly help his Euro 2016 cause playing as a marquee La Liga star. 

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In some ways it also makes sense for United. Uncertainty is hardly helpful when Louis van Gaal wants a smooth start to the season and the longer this saga is allowed to drag on, it is less likely that will happen.

Madrid have to get the deal done this summer and yesterday’s capture of Espanyol’s Kiko Casilla is testament to that. The 28-year-old is a decent goalkeeper but not much more. 

The suggestion is Keylor Navas will be Madrid’s No1 after Iker Casillas’ departure and Casilla will occupy the bench. Neither offer much in the way of security, though. Casilla is prone to major errors and that’s hardly a quality associated with a club like Madrid. 

In high pressure games he will be vulnerable and while Navas is a good ‘keeper, he’s far better suited to a more modest club. 

Every summer Madrid sign a big name to satisfy the insatiable appetite of their supporters. De Gea is exactly that but if it’s not him, then who is there? 

Lloris is an option but other than that there’s very little choose from in the current market. 

This transfer window for Madrid very much depends on De Gea.

If they don’t sign him they could be looking at another summer of disappointment. Madrid have little choice but to ignore the masses; they need a top-class custodian and must sign De Gea at any cost.

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VIDEO: Paris Saint-Germain want Manchester United’s Angel Di Maria – Laurent Blanc

ashraf 18/07/2015
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Paris Saint-Germain boss Laurent Blanc confirms the French domestic treble winners' 'interest' in Manchester United winger Ángel Di María and reiterates his desire to keep defensive midfielder Thiago Motta, who reportedly wants to rejoin Inter Milan.


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