La Liga

  • Who is Ricardo Centurion? The nightclub ...

    When Roberto Baggio speaks about football, it is wise to pay attention. The man dubbed the Divine Ponytail for his distinctive look on the field was one of the finest playmakers of the 1990s, his languid skills lighting up the No. 10 shirt for Fiorentina, Juventus and Italy, wi...

    Who is Ricardo Centurion? The nightclub fighting star Roberto Baggio labelled as his heir

    When Roberto Baggio speaks about football, it is wise to pay attention. The man dubbed the Divine Ponytail for his distinctive look on the field was one of the finest playmakers of the 1990s, his languid skills lighting up the No. 10 shirt for Fiorentina, Juventus and Italy, with whom he came agonisingly close to lifting the World Cup title. Baggio was a firm adherent of the idea first introduced by the likes of Diego Maradona and Michel Platini that a No. 10 need not stand static in the middle of the field, but rather is free to push forward and score. His record in front of goal in a league as unforgiving to offensive players as Serie A circa 1990 speaks for itself - 205 career goals - and now he has deigned to speak out and name his successor. Real Madrid favourites to retain La Liga “I love South American football and am a Boca Juniors fan,” the legend said on Monday in an interview with Corriere dello Sport. Indeed, Baggio owns an estate in the Patagonia region of Argentina and is a frequent visitor, while also enjoying a warm relationship with the Pibe de Oro himself, Maradona. And it was to his beloved Boca that he looked to identify his new favourite player: “My heir? I like [Ricardo] Centurion a lot”. His timing, as always, could not have been better. Centurion starred on loan at the Xeneize from Sao Paulo over the last 12 months, his incredible dribbling skills helping to compensate for the body blow that Carlos Tevez’s move to China inflicted on Boca midway through the season. If Tevez drove the team forward in the first half of 2016-17 and Dario Benedetto’s goals formed the bread and butter of a title-winning campaign, then it can equally be said that without Ricky Boca might well have fallen short in the final stretch. As it was the club pulled through to take the crown, and this week Centurion had been set to sign a permanent deal after bizarrely pulling out of a Genoa move having travelled to Italy to undergo his medical. Earlier in the summer, both Roma and Baggio's former club AC Milan had been interested in the player. At the tender age of 24 the winger who can also slot in as second striker now boasts two Primera Division titles, having previously taken the lap of honour with boyhood club Racing. His creative play and unbounded confidence to take on his marker proved vital to Boca’s chase, but no less important were the eight goals he snaffled to finish third top scorer behind Benedetto and Cristian Pavon in the Xeneize ranks. And no matter how hard the Primera bruisers hit him, Centurion always got back up to run rings around them the next time. It was not all positive for the young star, however. Baggio added in his evaluation that Ricky “still must improve himself away from the field,” in reference to a string of incidents that have seen him labelled in some circles, despite his undeniable talent, as a potential liability. In the last 12 months alone Centurion has been accused of walking away from a traffic incident caused driving while drunk, and fighting in hotels and in the dark streets of an Avellaneda shanty town in the early hours of the morning. More seriously, the 24-year-old faces domestic violence charges laid down by an ex-girlfriend, who alleges she was physically and emotionally abused during their time together. As recently as last weekend, fresh off the plane from Italy and soon to sign terms with Boca, he was involved in an unseemly nightclub fracas that meant once again he made the headlines for the wrong reasons. “He threatened me with death, but I hope he stays in Boca and this doesn’t affect the negotiations,” Fabian Comande, one of the group assaulted by Centurion and his entourage on Saturday evening, told Ole.  Bayern hold off Chelsea fightback Fabian’s wishes, however, will go unmet. The latest scandal appears to have been one too many for Boca, who have cut short talks at the last minute. On Tuesday the player sent a rambling, almost illegible missive on Instagram explaining the deal was off. “When one makes a mistake instead of supporting you they let you go, what a shame Boca, to have this done to you with a joke of a board and president I left everything behind and came to sign for Boca, you never wanted me,” he fired at the Xeneize, as his career entered limbo. He would not be the first gifted Argentine footballer to throw away his career due to an inability to control himself, and must work on this side of his personality. Whatever club now comes for Centurion must take on the responsibility of keeping him away from the temptations that fame and money bring to a kid who just five years ago used to travel to training at Racing by bicycle from the shanty town he called home. Only then can Baggio’s prophecy be fulfilled, as a young man who has all the talent in the world continues to fight a battle against his own self-destructive character.

  • Barca star Neymar backed by Kaka to make...

    As Paris Saint-Germain reportedly target Neymar for a world-record fee, Kaka says the Barcelona star will flourish wherever he decides to play. The Ligue 1 giants are reportedly ready to meet Neymar's €222million release clause, with head coach Unai Emery hoping to add the Brazi...

    Barca star Neymar backed by Kaka to make right future call amid Paris Saint-Germain links

    As Paris Saint-Germain reportedly target Neymar for a world-record fee, Kaka says the Barcelona star will flourish wherever he decides to play. The Ligue 1 giants are reportedly ready to meet Neymar's €222million release clause, with head coach Unai Emery hoping to add the Brazil star as PSG attempt to make their mark on the Champions League. dabblebet: Barca odds-on to beat Man Utd According to reports in his homeland, Neymar is open to making the move to Parc des Princes, despite signing a five-year contract with Barca in October last year and scoring more than 100 goals since arriving from Santos in 2013. Barca defender Gerard Pique and coach Ernesto Valverde have led the way publicly in trying to convince Neymar to remain at Camp Nou, but Kaka says his compatriot must do what is right by himself. Asked about the forward's future, World Cup and Ballon d'Or winner Kaka told Omnisport: "In this period of the season when the market is open, there is lot of speculation. "Big numbers, everybody wants the big players and of course Neymar is one of them.   "But it is a personal choice. I don't know what is in his mind or what he wants, if he thinks his time in Barca is finishing and it's time to move. Neymar needs to confirm Barca future "What I can say is that Neymar is a very good player, amazing. Wherever he plays the next few years, he will be great. "We will see. I wish him luck to decide. It's not easy to decide what is best for you in the future. He has a very good team, support, father and family to decide for his career." Amid the mounting speculation, Neymar scored twice as Barca kicked off their International Champions Cup campaign with a 2-1 win over Juventus in New Jersey on Saturday. Barca are back in action against Manchester United on Wednesday.

  • Higuain: I need to score more in Europe

    Gonzalo Higuain knows he needs to improve his Champions League scoring record and says Juventus are determined to make amends for their defeat in last season's final. The Argentine striker has scored 18 goals in Europe's top competition over the course of his career at Real Madr...

    Higuain: I need to score more in Europe

    Gonzalo Higuain knows he needs to improve his Champions League scoring record and says Juventus are determined to make amends for their defeat in last season's final. The Argentine striker has scored 18 goals in Europe's top competition over the course of his career at Real Madrid, Napoli and Juventus, five of which came last season, when the Bianconeri were beaten 4-1 by Zinedine Zidane's Blancos in the final. Bet on Juventus to win the Champions League Higuain's return from 12 games in Europe last term pales in comparison to Lionel Messi's 11 goals from nine games, or Cristiano Ronaldo's 12 in 13, and he agreed with Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri's assertion that he can improve. "Allegri says I need to score more in the Champions League? He's right," the 29-year-old was quoted as saying by Football Italia. "We're thinking of the new year, which will be harder and longer. We're motivated and we really want to make up for last year. "I always want to win and score more, even if we'd won the Champions League last year we couldn't have let up." Ronaldo's pair of goals either side of half-time badly damaged the hopes of a Juventus side that had conceded just three times en route to the final in Cardiff, but Higuain is keen for his team-mates to bury those memory by going one better in 2017-18. "We had a very good approach, for the first 10 or 15 minutes we were better than Madrid," he said. "In the second half they were more angry, we relaxed and they massacred us. We could have done more, but the past is the past. Barca wait for Neymar as Messi steps in "Allegri is right when he says the final shouldn't discredit our whole season. In two days we went from being the best team in Europe to an ordinary one. "We don't feel like the best team in Europe, but we're not ordinary either. We can fight with the best."

  • Dolberg: Real Madrid would be fine but I...

    Ajax striker Kasper Dolberg is tempted by the thought of playing for Real Madrid but insists he is in no rush to leave the club. Bet on Madrid to win the Champions League The 19-year-old scored 23 goals across all competitions in an outstanding 2016-17 season, including six in ...

    Dolberg: Real Madrid would be fine but I won't leave Ajax yet

    Ajax striker Kasper Dolberg is tempted by the thought of playing for Real Madrid but insists he is in no rush to leave the club. Bet on Madrid to win the Champions League The 19-year-old scored 23 goals across all competitions in an outstanding 2016-17 season, including six in 13 appearances during his side's run to the Europa League final. The Denmark international was linked with a move to the Premier League but talk of interest from Madrid has increased in recent weeks, with the Spanish and European champions in need of attacking reinforcements after selling Alvaro Morata and Mariano Diaz. Dolberg sees the appeal of following a similar career path to team-mate Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who played for Madrid, AC Milan and Schalke before returning to the Amsterdam club this year, but the younger man is happy to commit to Ajax for now. "It might be somewhat strange in modern day football, where everyone appears to be for sale, but [director of football Marc] Overmars made a statement with his comment that I am not for sale," Dolberg told De Telegraaf. "And I am fine with it. I want to stay and will not be leaving." Barca wait for Neymar as Messi steps in Asked if he would like to go on a similar trajectory to Huntelaar, Dolberg insisted he will go his own way. "Real Madrid would be alright. Milan and Schalke are nice clubs as well," he added. "And everyone dreams about finishing second and third at a World Cup. I will just follow my own path, though."

  • Real Madrid stars Marcelo and Navas dwar...

    Real Madrid stars Keylor Navas, Marcelo and Mateo Kovacic have, quite literally, been left in the shade by NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal. Zinedine Zidane’s squad are currently in the United States as they compete in the International Champions Cup. Get 5/1 on Real to defend their...

    Real Madrid stars Marcelo and Navas dwarfed by NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal

    Real Madrid stars Keylor Navas, Marcelo and Mateo Kovacic have, quite literally, been left in the shade by NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal. Zinedine Zidane’s squad are currently in the United States as they compete in the International Champions Cup. Get 5/1 on Real to defend their UCL crown Their next outing in that competition will be against Manchester City on Wednesday, with that fixture set to be staged at the iconic Coliseum stadium in Los Angeles. While in California, the Blancos have taken the opportunity to mingle with some other famous faces, including former LA Lakers star O’Neal.   A post shared by Marcelo Vieira Jr. (@marcelotwelve) on Jul 24, 2017 at 10:20pm PDT Standing at 7ft 1in tall, O’Neal dwarfs 5ft 9in Brazilian full-back Marcelo. Ronaldo confirms Real Madrid stay He also towers above Madrid keeper Navas, who is over six feet tall himself.   A post shared by Keylor Navas Gamboa (@keylornavas1) on Jul 24, 2017 at 10:15pm PDT Croatian midfielder Kovacic is also made to look tiny in comparison to a legendary figure who won four NBA titles over the course of a distinguished career which also took in spells at the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat.   A post shared by Mateo Kovacic (@mateokovacic8) on Jul 24, 2017 at 10:15pm PDT Madrid will be hoping to perform like giants once again in the 2017-18 campaign, with Zidane’s troops looking to defend the La Liga and Champions League crowns they secured during a productive season last time out.

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