Lionel Messi says he has a 'special connection' with Jordi Alba at Barcelona

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Messi and Alba have become a deadly partnership.

Lionel Messi says that Jordi Alba is the new Barcelona team-mate he feels he has a “special connection” with now that Andres Iniesta has left the club.

Iniesta was the latest club legend to depart, leaving this summer for Vissel Kobe in Japan, following the lead of Xavi, who left for Qatar in 2015.

“Andrés and Xavi are unique,” Messi told the Barcelona website. “They made the game more colorful and brought more possession.”

When asked which current teammate he has the best connection with on the pitch, Messi responded, “Jordi Alba knows me to perfection.

“He knows when I will give him a no-look pass. I have a special connection with him.”

Like Messi, Alba was part of Barcelona’s youth setup, though he left the club to establish himself, at Valencia, before returning in 2012.

Messi also praised teammate Luis Suarez, one of his best friends at the club, hailing the impact the Uruguayan striker has on the team.

“He brings a lot to me and to the rest of the team,” explained Messi.

“He leads us in creating pressure and provides strength to all of us.”

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Ajax stars Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt would start at Barcelona, says Ronald de Boer

David Cooper 17/09/2018
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Ajax youngsters Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt are good enough to start for Barcelona, claims Netherlands great Ronald de Boer – who played for both clubs.

Centre midfielder De Jong, 21, and centre-back De Ligt, 19, are the latest starlets off the production line in Amsterdam. Such form has seen them linked with moves to Camp Nou.

Speaking to SPORT, De Boer – who headed to Catalonia along with brother Frank in January 1999 – extolled their virtues.

He said: “He [De Jong] is a footballer for whom you go to a stadium to watch him play. He is one of those who makes the differences and is still very young.

“De Ligt is also great. Both of them would be starters at Barcelona, without any problems.”

Versatile midfielder De Boer, 48, scored three times in 54 appearances for Barca from 1999-2000.

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Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta gets a new head coach in Japan with Vissel Kobe

David Cooper 17/09/2018
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Fellow Spaniard Juan Manuel Lillo has been announced as the new head coach of Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta’s Vissel Kobe.

Former Real Zaragoza, Real Sociedad and Almeria boss Lillo, 52, was announced by the J1 League-outfit on Monday. A deal has been agreed until the end of the 2019 season for a man whom Manchester City’s revolutionary tactician Pep Guardiola cites as an inspiration.

He replaces Takayuki Yoshida, who was removed from his duties after four consecutive defeats saw the club slip away from the AFC Champions League qualifying spots.

Iniesta has scored twice in six top-flight appearances since he called time on a 22-year association with Barca this summer.

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