La Liga sidesteps reports over Barcelona game in the United States

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La Liga clubs are opposed to playing a league game in the US.

La Liga is refusing to confirm reports that Barcelona‘s scheduled derby meeting with Girona in January will be the competition’s first match played in the United States.

La Liga announced last month it had agreed a 15-year deal with American sports and entertainment group Relevent which would include Spanish top-flight matches being played overseas.

Full details have yet to be given but the plan has caused considerable controversy. The Spanish players’ union, the AFE, has even said strike action could not be ruled out because of a lack of consultation with players.

Some Spanish media outlets are now reporting that the Catalan derby fixture between Girona and La Liga champions Barca, due to be played on January 27, has been selected to be played in the US.

It is claimed that La Liga is prepared to subsidise the travel and accommodation costs of season-ticket holders wishing to fly to the States to watch the game. Those unable to travel would be compensated for the loss of a home fixture.

Neither club has commented on the claims.

A spokesman for La Liga told Press Association Sport: “La Liga is working together with our new partner Relevent Sports to organize the first fixture to be scheduled in the USA. At this point we cannot confirm the teams, match, date or season.”

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Brazil legend Ronaldo becomes majority owner at Real Valladolid

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Two-time World Cup winner Ronaldo has become the majority shareholder of LaLiga club Real Valladolid.

Images on Valladolid’s official Twitter feed on Monday showed the former Brazil striker, now 41, at a press conference alongside the club’s president, Carlos Suarez, in the Spanish city.

And Suarez said in quotes on the feed: “Today is a starting point. Ronaldo has personally acquired 51 per cent of the shares of Real Valladolid. He is an idol who inspires love and spreads dreams.

“The arrival of Ronaldo puts Real Valladolid on the map and allows the club to make a jump forward in terms of quality. I welcome you to your home.”

Ronaldo, who played in Spain for Barcelona and Real Madrid, said: “I have gone through many stages in my football career to prepare myself for this. Football is everything, my passion.

“We are hugely inspired to meet our goals, goals that are not going to stand still because we want to go as far as our dreams will allow us.

“This new management will be defined by four words: competitiveness, transparency, revolution and community. We will move forward with our friend Carlos Suarez and with the existing staff on board.

“We want to build the best possible team so we can compete and demonstrate clearly where we want to go. There will be an obvious community element in all of our actions, too.

“Count on us to consolidate Real Valladolid in LaLiga and to continue pursuing your dreams. Such is the strength of the unity between everyone here, I am sure it will be very difficult to beat us.

“I want everyone to get behind the club and I invite the fans to participate in this project. Give us your ideas, opinions, criticism and share your hopes and dreams.”

“I want you to be part of the present and future of Real Valladolid.”

Valladolid were promoted to the Spanish top flight last season via the play-offs, and so far this term they have drawn 0-0 away at Girona and Getafe, either side of a 1-0 home loss against Barcelona.

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Lionel Messi is the best ever, says Huesca coach Leo Franco

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Huesca coach Leo Franco has warned his La Liga newcomers they will come up against “the best player in the history of football” when they rub shoulders with Barcelona star Lionel Messi.

The Argentinian, who has guided last season’s Segunda Division runners-up to an unbeaten start in the top flight, has no doubts about the threat posed by his illustrious compatriot, but also the danger of underestimating his team-mates.

He told a press conference: “For me, he is the best player in the history of football. But if you put people around Leo, he can get past one, two, three…

“You have to be very attentive and the player who is marking him has to produce their best individual performance.

“But no individual player can be more important than the team. Right now I’m thinking in my head about their players and the truth is that they have everything. I would not know who to name.”

Huesca launched their season with a 2-1 win at Eibar and followed it up with Monday’s 2-2 draw at Athletic Bilbao in which they trailed 2-0 before scoring twice inside the final 19 minutes.

For that reason, Franco and his players will run out at the Nou Camp knowing they face the sternest of tests, but confident that they can make an impression.

The coach said: “We are going into a game against a major opponent and it is one of the most difficult games of the year.

“But we are also going to play with 11 players and we go there with a lot of faith and confidence, and with realism, knowing what we can do well and that we have to do it perfectly.”

Defending champions Barca followed up their 3-0 opening victory over Alaves with a hard-fought 1-0 win at Valladolid last Saturday and will be intent on preserving their 100 per cent record.

They have not lost a home league game since Alaves won at the Nou Camp in September 2016 and will be in no mood to surrender that record this weekend with arch-rivals Real Madrid having also taken maximum points from their first two fixtures.

Boss Ernesto Valverde said of the Huesca match: “They will front up to us and that will come as no surprise, as they will come here full of enthusiasm.

“They are unbeaten after playing at two difficult places, namely Ipurua and San Mames.”

Valverde has backed Ousmane Dembele to keep shining after the France forward scored the only goal of last weekend’s 1-0 triumph at Real Valladolid.

“He is working very hard and we hope he shows consistency throughout this season,” said Valverde.

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