Pictures and footage from Lionel Messi's wedding as Barcelona stars are among guests

Celebrity magazines have dubbed brunette mother-of-two Antonella Roccuzzo "the first lady of football" as she married Lionel Messi, widely considered the best player on the planet.

Showbiz and football stars attended their wedding on Friday in the couple's hometown of Rosario, Argentina.

Barcelona team-mates Luis Suarez, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba were all in attendance along with former Catalans Carles Puyol, Xavi, Cesc Fabregas and Samuel Eto'o.

Messi's close friend Sergio Aguero flew in for the event as well alongside other Argentina stars like Angel Di Maria, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Ever Banega.

Check out our gallery above for all the best images of stars on the red carpet.

Messi and his new wife also shared a kiss in front of the cameras (video below).

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Barcelona put faith in La Masia graduate Carles Alena with new three-year contract

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Barcelona have handed teenage midfielder Carles Alena a new three-year contract.

The 19-year-old’s deal includes an automatic two-year extension based on first-team appearances.

Spanish youth international Alena scored on his debut against Hercules in the Copa del Rey last season and made three substitute appearances in La Liga towards the end of the campaign.

A statement on Barcelona’s official website said: “FC Barcelona and Carles Alena have reached a contract agreement that will see the youngster sign on for the next three years.

“If Alena joins the first team then the deal will be extended by a further two years, and his release clause will reach €75 million.

“Carles Alena played a key part in Barca B’s promotion campaign and has also made his first-team debut under Luis Enrique, scoring an important goal in the Copa del Rey against Hercules.”

Provided by Press Association

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Ernesto Valverde just the first step in Barcelona stemming flow of talent out of the club

Andy West 28/06/2017
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Not so long ago, Barcelona made history by fielding an entire team of players who had graduated through the club’s famed ‘La Masia’ youth system.

It was November 25, 2012 and Barca ran out comfortable winners at Levante, with goals from Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas securing a straightforward 4-0 triumph for a team also containing Victor Valdes, Martin Montoya, Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Xavi and Pedro.

Back then, less than five years ago, La Masia was at the height of its fame and Barça were the global benchmark for youth development.

How times have changed. The Nou Camp club have now become a buying club rather than self-sustaining, with many of the players who appeared in that game at Levante departing and being replaced by costly imports.

When they finished last season by winning the Copa del Rey with a 3-1 victory over Alaves, the Catalan club’s 18-man squad featured just five players from La Masia, and their reputation for developing and promoting homegrown talent is in danger of being well and truly lost.

Indeed, that worrying trend has been continuing apace this summer, with two of the youth team’s brightest prospects deciding their futures would be better served elsewhere.

The rapid departures of Jordi Mboula to Monaco and now Eric Garcia to Manchester City is a devastating indictment, suggesting that even the best players within La Masia are losing faith in Barça’s ability to develop young talent.

You can understand why. Since that victory at Levante in 2012, only Sergi Roberto and Rafinha have made the leap from the youth ranks to the first team, while Mboula and Garcia have joined the likes of Sandro (recently signed by Everton), Marc Bartra (Borussia Dortmund), Alex Grimaldo (Benfica) and Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich) in heading through the exit door.

The club is clearly aware of the issue, and understandably concerned. The imminent recruitment of Gerard Deulofeu, in fact, is the first step at attempting to reverse the process.

As a youngster, flamboyant winger Deulofeu was a major star in Barça’s youth ranks, regularly shining for the club’s B team and making a handful of appearances for the senior eleven.

But was not given a real chance to progress any further, joined Everton, Sevilla, Everton again and then AC Milan in an attempt to spark his career, and is now close to being brought back to Camp Nou in a bid to prove that the values of La Masia have not been abandoned and that young players can find a route, however tortuous, to the first team.

Deulofeu’s return may be a largely cosmetic measure, attempting to reassure disgruntled fans that locally reared boys can still make it. But the appointment of Ernesto Valverde is a far more fundamental and significant step, with the former Athletic Bilbao coach getting picked for the job of succeeding Luis Enrique partly because he has an excellent record of developing young players.

Inaki Williams, Aymeric Laporte and Yeray Alvarez were among the youngsters who flourished in Bilbao under the command of Valverde, who will now be expected to achieve similar feats with Barça’s most promising youth performers.

It helps that Barça’s B team has just earned promotion back to the Segunda Division, meaning their rising stars will be testing themselves and improving at a strong level of competition.

It should be noted, however, that Valverde has been working in an extremely different environment at Athletic, whose long-held policy of only recruiting Basque players effectively forces them to give youth a chance.

Barça, of course, are not burdened by that restriction, and have the financial resources to snap up more or less anyone they want.

Their recent forays into the transfer market have rarely been successful, though, with expensive signings such as Arda Turan, Paco Alcacer and Andre Gomes faring badly and leading an increasing number of fans to question why La Masia graduates were not given a chance instead.

Perhaps it’s time to turn back towards La Masia, trust Valverde to develop the players he is given and put away the cheque book. If they don’t take that step, a significant part of the club’s essence will continue to decay.

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