Ansu Fati officially Spain’s youngest scorer

Ansu Fati became the youngest goalscorer in the history of the Spanish national team on Sunday by scoring against Ukraine in the Nations League.

Aged 17 years and 311 days, Fati netted in the 32nd minute of the League A, Group 4 clash at the Alfredo di Stefano Stadium when he cut in from the left and curled into the bottom corner to make it 3-0.

The Barcelona forward, who was making his first start for Spain, beat the previous record held by Juan Errazquin, who scored three goals aged 18 against Switzerland in 1925.

Fati is the youngest player to score for Spain as well as for Barca in La Liga and the youngest to score in the Champions League as well.

Born in Guinea-Bissau, the teenager made his Barca debut at the start of last season, becoming the second youngest player ever to play for the Catalan giants.

He was the club’s youngest ever scorer in La Liga after he netted off the bench against Osasuna and the he also scored on his first Barca start, against Valencia, aged 16.

The next day, Barcelona newspaper Mundo Deportivo wrote “A star is born” and he continued breaking records by hitting the winner against Inter Milan in the Champions League in December.

Fati was expected to be given his debut for Spain earlier this year but he had to wait as fixtures were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

His goal against Ukraine came after a spell-binding opening half an hour from the youngster as he caused havoc down the left wing and almost scored with a bicycle kick.

Fati’s goal put Spain almost out of sight against Ukraine after Sergio Ramos scored the opening two goals, the first from the penalty spot.

 

EU countries worry about a second wave of coronavirus

As the United States struggles to contain the coronavirus, there are growing concerns about a possible new spike in cases in Europe.

Many of the new coronavirus cases are tied to reopenings.

As soon as travel restrictions eased in mid-June, Europeans flocked to sunny Spain. But a month on, the number of COVID-19 cases there has quadrupled. It’s the biggest uptick on the continent, but there have also been spikes in France, Germany and Belgium.

“I’m afraid you are starting to see in some places the signs of a second wave of the pandemic,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, as his government reimposed restrictions on anyone coming into the U.K. from Spain.

Anyone entering Britain from the country, including returning British vacationers, must now self-quarantine for two weeks. That has ruined holiday plans for thousands of people — including many who just managed to make it into Spain before the restrictions were suddenly reimposed over the weekend.

Spanish officials have criticized the U.K. policy as unnecessary, and even illogical as most parts of Spain still have lower infection rates than many British regions.

In Germany, public health authorities have set up free COVID-19 testing stations at airports, and warned warn Germans to avoid coronavirus hotspots in Spain. The majority of the surge in cases has been seen around Barcelona, in the country’s northeast.

Strict lockdowns this spring left some of the most famous tourist sites in the world eerily deserted, yielding virtually unprecedented scenes of desolation at places like the Eiffel Tower and Rome’s Trevi Fountain.

But life has begun to trickle back, and now millions of local people who make their living from tourism are desperate to make up for lost time. Another lockdown brought on by a second wave would be devastating.

It would also be unnecessary, according to Professor David Heymann, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

He told CBS News he would not recommend another blanket shutdown of travel in Europe.

“I think we need to begin to understand how to travel safely,” he said. “We need to begin to get back to normal.”

But normal doesn’t mean going on vacation to forget the pandemic. To flatten Europe’s ominous COVID-19 spikes, tourists can expect enforced social distancing, local curfews, lots of testing, and masks everywhere – even at the beach.

FCO warns UK tourists against traveling to Spain

The Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) has changed its guidance to include the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands in its advice to avoid all but essential travel to Spain.

Anyone travelling from those locations to the UK must quarantine for 14 days.

The self-isolation rule was announced on Saturday, but many had hoped Spain’s islands would be exempt due to their low coronavirus rates.

Those hopes were crushed with an update from the FCO, which said people should avoid travelling to the islands, as well as the mainland, due to the “current assessment of COVID-19 risks in the country”.

What prompted the FCO’s turnaround on Spain?

An FCO spokesperson said: “We have considered the overall situation for British nationals travelling to and from the Balearic and Canary Islands, including the impact of the requirement to self-isolate on return to the UK, and concluded that we should advise British nationals against all non-essential travel to the whole of Spain.”

Downing Street earlier warned the public that “no travel is risk-free” during the coronavirus pandemic after huge disruption was caused by a change in quarantine rules.

Travel firm TUI UK has cancelled holidays to the Balearic Islands and Canary Islands following the FCO’s advice but said that the decision is damaging business for the travel industry.

The company has cancelled holidays to the islands from July 28 up to and including July 31. Holidays to mainland Spain were already cancelled up to and including August 9.

TUI said that customers due to travel to Spanish destinations up until August 9 will be able to cancel or amend their holiday or receive a full refund “or the option to rebook their holiday with a booking incentive”.

TUI customers with island holidays booked from August 1 and mainland Spain from August 10 will be updated on Friday, July 31, the spokesperson said.

Jet2 said flights from the UK to the Balearic and Canary Islands from the UK will not be operational from Tuesday, July 28.

A spokesperson for the company said: “This advice also applies to customers travelling to any of our destinations in mainland Spain. We will be operating our scheduled programme of flights back to the UK from these destinations tomorrow.

“This is an extremely fast-moving situation, and we will provide a further update tomorrow.”

The government has been criticised for announcing mandatory quarantine rules, without warning, on Saturday evening – just hours before they were due to come into effect.

Labour criticised the “chaotic nature of the decision making” but Number 10 has defended the last-minute move, saying border measures and travel advice can be “changed rapidly” in order to protect the UK from coronavirus.

La Liga: 110 games to be played in 39 days

Spain’s National Sports Council confirmed on Friday, that LaLiga games will start again after the season was suspended to control spread of COVID-19.

First Lal Liga match for the 2019/20 season will be between Betis and Sevilla on 11 June.

After Betis vs Sevilla game, non-stop La Liga matches should be expected. Football matches will be played everyday from 11 June to 19 July, with 39 straight days of football.

After reopening, La Liga hopes to play all pending matches within the 11 remaining matchdays of the 2019/20 season.

Spain’s top flight football will therefore record a total of 110 games within 39 days,  in the sweltering heat of the Spanish summer, with mid-day temperatures already well over 30 in much of the country.

While Liga boss Javier Tebas has not officially confirmed the calendar, everything points to there being games every single day once tournament restarts in order to fit in the matches.

Kick-off times in LaLiga

The possible kick-off times for the matches have not been released yet, although it appears clear they will not be the start times that LaLiga used prior to the COVID-19 suspension. Given the high temperatures it is likely that most kick-off times will be 19:30 or later, with the exceptions being home games for the teams on the north coast, such as Celta, Athletic Club and Real Sociedad.

Playing twice a week

Not all the clubs are accustomed to the rhythm of playing twice a week almost every week. One helpful change has been the move to allow five substitutions per match. For some of the key players in LaLiga, they could be looking at trying to play 990 minutes of top-flight football in less than a month and a half. More than a quarter of the championship in just a few weeks. What’s more, this frenzy of football is taking place after a two month break with players far from match fitness. German football saw a flurry of injuries when it restarted.

All to play for in LaLiga

With 11 matchdays left there is everything to play for at top and bottom of the table. Barcelona and Real Madrid are fighting for the title, with Setién’s side on 58 points versus Zidane’s 56. Real Madrid hold the head-to-head advantage if they finish tied (0-0 and 2-0 in their games this season).

The battle for the Champions League spots is also fascinating: Sevilla, Real Sociedad, Getafe, Atlético and maybe Valencia tussling over two places. Meanwhile the Europa League spots will likely go to that group, with Villarreal, Granada and Athletic Club eyeing up the chance of stealing a march on their rivals in the final stage.

At the bottom of the table, Espanyol have their work cut out to save their place in the top flight, as do Leganés and Mallorca, although they are both just a win from jumping out of the relegation zone. Celta sit just above the red line, with Eibar and Valladolid also at risk of slipping into danger. Alavés, Levante and Betis have more margin of error, but need to cautious.

La Liga games kicking off soon!

Barcelona have said footballers are allowed to train in groups of 10.

Spanish clubs have been given the green light to move from individual training into group training, with the government allowing La Liga teams to train in groups of up to 10 players, bringing the restart of competition a little closer.

The Boletín Oficial del Estado in Spain announced that clubs could move into phase 3 of 4 of La Liga’s protocol (phase 4 will be a return to full training).

That included teams, like Barcelona and Real Madrid, whose regions remain in phase 0 of the country’s de-confinement plan.

Barça returned to individual training last week following coronavirus testing the week before. They will not train in groups from Monday morning, at 9.30 am.

The BOE laid out that: 

1. Sports clubs or Sports Public Limited Companies may carry out medium training sessions that will consist of exercising individualised tasks of a physical and technical nature, as well as conducting non-exhaustive tactical training sessions, in small groups of various athletes, up to a maximum 10, maintaining the prevention distances, two meters in general, and avoiding in any case, situations in which physical contact occurs. For this, they may use the facilities at their disposal, complying with the measures established by the health authorities.

2. If the quarantine training regime is chosen, the specific measures established for this type of training by the health authorities and the Higher Sports Council must be complied with. Both if the residence service is required as well as the opening of the restaurant and cafeteria services, the measures established in this order for this type of establishment must be complied with.

3. The performance of the training tasks will be carried out whenever possible in shifts, avoiding exceeding thirty percent of the capacity that the facility has for athletes, in order to maintain the minimum distances necessary for the protection of the health of athletes.

4. The technical personnel necessary for their development may attend the training sessions, for which they must maintain the general prevention and hygiene measures against COVID-19 indicated by the health authorities. Said technical personnel will appoint a person in charge who will report the incidents to the coordinator of the sports entity.

5. The changing rooms may be used, respecting the provisions to that effect in the general prevention and hygiene measures against COVID-19 indicated by the health authorities.

6. The training sessions may not be attended by the media.

For this reason, in accordance with the provisions of the aforementioned Order SND / 414/2020, and in accordance with the provisions of the Protocol of action back to the training of the LaLiga teams, all the clubs / SAD will be able from the 18th of May develop group training corresponding to Phase 3 up to a maximum of 10 players.

Ousmane Dembele returned to Barca’s training facility on Wednesday 13.

Spain’s daily death toll declines as restricitions begin to ease

Spain has registered 288 deaths in its latest 24-hour period, the lowest figure since 20 March, as the country finally eased up on lockdown  restrictions to allow children up to 14 years old outside for the first time in six weeks.

A further easing of restrictions is set for next week, as Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced that Spanish residents will be allowed out for exercise and to take walks from Saturday 2 May.

To date, adults have only been allowed out to go to supermarkets, pharmacies or their jobs, if deemed necessary.

“If the pandemic keeps evolving positively as it has been doing until now, from May 2, individual physical activity will be permitted and walks with the people you live with,” he said in his public address to the nation on Saturday.

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No hope for La Liga games ahead of the summer

Spain’s minister for health Salvador Illa was cautious on the possibility of LaLiga making a return in the forthcoming months at today’s Covid-19 briefing session.

For some reasons, Salvador Illa adopted a cautious approach on his statement about when La Liga could kick off.

In his words: “I really can’t say at this point if professional football will return ahead of the summer, it would be imprudent on my behalf to offer a definitive view.”

During today’s daily coronavirus briefing, the minister requested that football lovers should be patient while health workers are monitoring the evolution of the pandemic.

According to Salvador, this evaluation process must be observed before a return to professional sports could be resumed.

He did warn that as we move towards a ‘new normality’, things will not be as they were before.

The minister did comment on the possibility of each player being regularly tested.

“There is a governmental directive that affects professional football in that the matter of testing will be administered by the autonomous governments,” said Salvador. His statements were concluded with optimism that in a period of 15 days, the country would lift the current state of alarm that was imposed mid-March as a response to COVID-19 pandemic in Spain.

Latest coronavirus updates

UK PM Johnson reportedly back at Downing Street

UK prime minister Boris Johnson returned to 10 Downing Street on Sunday, Sky News reported, after spending a week in hospital with Covid-19 and two weeks recovering at his country residence.

A Downing Street spokeswoman declined to comment on Johnson’s whereabouts. The government had previously announced he would be back at work on Monday.

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab, who has been deputising for him in his absence, said Johnson was “raring to go”. (Reuters)

Spain’s minister for health urges caution on LaLiga return

Spain’s minister for health Salvador Illa was cautious on the possibility of LaLiga making a return in the forthcoming months at today’s Covid-19 briefing session.

“It would be wrong for me to say that football will return in the summer,” he said.

UK posts lowest daily death rate since March

The number of deaths in UK hospitals from the coronavirus has risen to 20,732 – an increase of 413 in the last 24 hours. This is the lowest daily rise since the end of March.

Spain’s government lifts home confinement rule for children under 14

Spain’s government lifted a home confinement rule for children under 14 years old after 44 days on Sunday.

That decision by the Spanish government ends one of the most restrictive measures of its national lockdown to rein in a coronavirus outbreak that has claimed over 22,000 lives in the European country. Even Italy, with more deaths than Spain, has not kept its youngsters completely secluded.

After six weeks cooped up with 3-year-old twins, mother Susana Sabaté was finally able to release her energy-filled boys onto Spain’s sunny streets.

“This is wonderful! I can’t believe it has been six weeks,” the 44-year-old Sabaté said in Barcelona. “My boys are very active. Today when they saw the front door and we gave them their scooters, they were thrilled.”

Sabaté’s sons wore child-size face masks as they went out. She said they were used to seeing both their parents wear them when they went out, so she believed that made it easier to convince them to put them on.

“We will see how long they last!” she said. Gustavo Tapia, Sabaté husband, said that taking sons Tomás and Zacarías for a stroll in the neighborhood was a joy.

“It was as if we had rediscovered the street,” Tapia said. “They were really excited to see things that they had grown accustomed to seeing before. For example, when they saw a streetlight they started shouting ‘Green! Green!’ They also loved seeing ants and other insects.”

Spain’s 5.8 million children under 14 years old are now allowed to take walks once a day, accompanied by a parent for up to one hour and within a kilometer of home. Many children took out their bikes and scooters.

Kids can take one toy with them, but they are not to play with other children. They can accompany a parent on shopping outings for food, medicine or a newspaper. Parks remain closed in Barcelona and Madrid. Authorities recommend that both parents and children wash their hands before and after outings.

Authorities had resisted calls from some parents to let children outside until now, citing concerns that they could be a source of contagion even though children appear to rarely fall ill from the new virus.

The ban was lifted at 9 a.m. After a few early risers trickled out to otherwise deserted streets, many could not resist the draw of Barcelona’s beach promenade, the closest they could get to the sand that remains off-limits. Benches with views of the Mediterranean were packed with people, some of who, but not all, wore masks. Police told an Associated Press photographer that they were having difficulties enforcing the social distancing rules that families should stay a minimum of a meter apart.

Health Minister Salvador Illa said that the information he managed indicated that “the restrictions have generally been followed,” but that “we will evaluate the situation and take steps if necessary.”

Some local authorities, however, did single out rule breakers. Valencia’s lieutenant mayor Sandra Gómez posted a video on her Twitter account showing a group of children kicking a ball together in a park, with more people huddled in the background.

Spain

“Responsibility. We have opened the parks for people to walk in pleasant areas not for soccer,” Gómez wrote. “Imagine what those (owners of) closed restaurants and shops who are making an enormous economic effort will think you are doing. Warning: what doesn’t work will be taken back.”

Spain has one of the world’s strictest lockdowns as it fights to contain one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks that has infected over 200,000 people. Since the start of Spain’s state of emergency on March 14, adults can only leave home for essential shopping or to make unavoidable commutes to work.

The measures have helped reduce a daily contagion rate that was raging over 20% a month ago to under 1% by Sunday. That has reduced the intense pressure on hospitals that were on the brink of collapse.

Authorities have insisted that a further loosening of restrictions will depend on maintaining the positive tendency. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said Saturday that he plans to permit adults to go out for exercise next week.

“It is important that we carry out this step (of letting children out) with a strict compliance of the rules,” Sánchez said. “We must not underestimate the enemy we face … Each family must act responsibly; as they have until now. If the outings are carried out according to the rules and we can confirm there are no more infections, this first relief measure will be accompanied by another one the following week.”

Parents still have no indication when schools will reopen. Only factory and construction workers are back on the job after a two-week stoppage of all industry. All non-essential retail stores are shuttered.

“It has been difficult because they have had classes online from 9 to 1 in the morning,” David Terrón, father of two boys, said on the streets of Madrid. “My wife and I are working from home and it has been very difficult to coordinate and look after them and pay attention to the clients and the boss and colleagues.”

For Terrón’s 10-year-old son Alberto, taking a walk is nice, but something is missing. “I want this confinement to be over so we can back to school with my friends,” Alberto said.

Coronavirus deaths increasing in Spain

Spain’s coronavirus toll overtook that of China on Wednesday, rising to 3,434 after another 738 people died as Madrid announced a multi-million-euro deal with Beijing for critical supplies.

The spike in fatalities means that across the globe, only Italy now has a higher death toll than Spain.

In China, where the virus emerged late last year, the Covid-19 epidemic has claimed 3,281 lives.

The latest figures were announced as Spain entered the 11th day of an unprecedented lockdown to try and rein in the deadly coronavirus outbreak that has now infected 47,610 people, the health ministry said.

The surge in numbers has brought the medical system to the brink of collapse, with Spain struggling with a lack of medical supplies for testing, treatment and the protection of frontline workers, and a growing number of cases among healthcare personnel with more than 5,400 infected.

To address the shortages, Health Minister Salvador Illa said the government had inked a major deal with China.

Worth some 432 million euros, the deal will cover 550 million masks, 5.5 million rapid test kits, 950 respirators and 11 million pairs of gloves, he told a televised news conference.

NATO help sought

The announcement came a day after Spain’s armed forces asked NATO for humanitarian assistance to secure supplies to help curb the spread of the virus both in the military and in the civilian population.

The request specified 450,000 respirators, 500,000 rapid testing kits, 500 ventilators and 1.5 million surgical masks.

Despite the national lockdown imposed on 14 March, which is to be extended until 11 April, both deaths and infections have continued to mount, with officials warning this week would be particularly bad.

Priority in Spain is how to complete the 2019/20 LaLiga season

The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) is determined to save this season even if a resumption at the start of May appears unlikely, says President Luis Rubiales.

LaLiga, along with the rest of the major leagues in European football, has been put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, with no games played in the Spanish top tier since Real Sociedad won 2-1 at Eibar on March 10.

The country has been hit hard by the outbreak of COVID-19, suffering over 3,000 deaths and more than 47,000 cases of the virus reported.

LaLiga was indefinitely suspended due to coronavirus

An indefinite suspension of the 2019-20 campaign was announced on Monday amid the crisis, while both the Europa League and Champions League finals will not take place as originally planned at the end of May.

Rubiales on Wednesday revealed there is the possibility of extending the season beyond the scheduled finish to make sure all fixtures are played, rather than cutting short the campaign.

“The priority is to complete the season,” he said at a press conference. “We can’t just relegate teams now. Teams have to be promoted by right.

“There are hundreds of teams waiting to complete the season. When the country recovers, that will be the moment to complete the current season.

“Let’s hope I’m mistaken and that we can play at the start of May. I don’t think that’ll be possible, but I’d love to be proved wrong, we’ll have to extend the calendar.

“The objective is to save this season. That’s our idea.”

However, Rubiales also confirmed RFEF remain cautious over discussing any potential return date during such “an extreme time” for the country.

“We are working on every scenario possible, but we don’t want to play predictor. We have to be very cautious and rigorous,” Rubiales told the media.

“We are living an extreme time, with many deaths. We have never put a deadline to restart playing and we will not be doing now.

“We believe the deadline should be health, integrity and safety. Mainly when the country takes back the normal situation.”

Iker Casillas interested in becoming President of Spanish Federation

Former Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas will run for president of the Spanish soccer federation.

Casillas, who currently plays for Portuguese club Porto, made the announcement Monday on his social media accounts, saying he will be a candidate as soon as new elections are scheduled.

The 38-year-old Casillas said he wants to raise the federation to the same level of Spanish soccer, which he called ”the best in the world.”

He said more than 23,000 voters will be waiting ”for us in fair and transparent elections.”

Casillas said he already informed Porto of his decision to run for the Spanish federation’s presidency.

Luis Rubiales is the current president of the federation. He took over in 2018.

There is no timetable for the new elections.

New coalition government inaugurated in Spain

After two chaotic general elections in Spain, this new executive is the result of a coalition between the Socialist Party (PSOE) and leftist party, Unidos Podemos (UP).

The new left unity Spanish government, the first ruling coalition since 1936, led by Socialist Pedro Sanchez, was sworn in Monday in the presence of King Philip VI.

After more than eight months of political deadlock and two general elections, the four vice-presidents and 18 ministers of the new cabinet participated in the taking office ceremony in the Zarzuela Palace, the official residence of the monarch.

The new executive is the result of a coalition between Spain’s Socialist Party (PSOE) and the leftist party, Unidos Podemos (UP), which has resulted in the rejection of the right-wing opposition block composed by the conservative Popular Party, the liberal Citizens and the far-right Vox party.

Today the ministers of the government of Spain took office. Men and women with long trajectories that guarantee their capacity. A great team for a progressive government that is already working to move our country forward and improve the lives of its citizens.

In Sanchez’s new cabinet there are four UP ministers, plus the leader of this party, Pablo Iglesias as second vice-president of Social Rights and Agenda 2030. Also, eight ministers will come back to their actual positions.

All members of the Cabinet respected the usual formula of pledge or oath of office, which included their commitment to loyalty to the king and to uphold and enforce the Constitution, even though many of them are self-declared Republicans.

After taking the oath, each member of the Executive addressed their respective ministries.

The two main challenges this administration has to face would be the political crisis in Catalonia following the secessionist process of 2017 and the improvements in social services with the maintenance of the economic orthodoxy demanded by the European Union.

Tomorrow an extraordinary meeting of the Council of Ministers will be held and next Friday, the usual cabinet meeting will take place.

Kluivert: Barcelona’s director of youth football speaks on club management

During an intense morning talking with SPORT, Patrick Kluivert never lost the smile which always accompanies him.

The Dutchman spoke in the gardens of Oriol Tort outside La Masia about his first few months at Barcelona’s director of youth football.

How do you feel in the new role?

It’s been four months now. I feel really good working alongside the coaches and Jordi Roura. Communication has been good and that’s the most important thing.

Have you been able to impose the Kluivert brand?

It’s difficult to make drastic changes in four months but we’re working on important things. I can’t say what but you’re going to like them.

Signing more talent from abroad?

We will see. The most important thing is when we sign players it’s because they’re better than what there is in Catalonia. There’s no need to sign for the sake of it. I can guarantee that there’s a lot of quality here.

You must be keeping an eye on the Dutch?

Of course. The development at Ajax and Barcelona is very similar. I know the Ajax academy well. There are some different things but the main things are very similar.

Ajax would be a good team to loan players like Riqui Puig and Aleña to?

They would be the perfect team. I’m keen to loan players to Ajax. We also have an agreement with Utrecht. For the players that don’t progress directly to the first team, it would be perfect for them to continue their development as players.

Do you think Riqui should be in the first team already?

If you see the midfielders in the first team already — Frenkie, Arturo, etc etc — where are you going to put Riqui? With all respect. It is difficult. It’s better for Riqui to go out on loan to play at a different level and then he can return.

What happened with Victor Valdes? Why did he leave after just two months’ 

Everyone asks me that question. I get it. I don’t want to go down a negative path. I don’t want to harm anyone. It’s not good for me, for Victor or for the club. There are four people that know what happened and I want to leave it like that, it’s better for everyone that way. Sometimes you have to make decisions at football clubs, which is what we did, and I don’t want to start a debate.

The club made a big financial effort to keep Ilaix Moriba away from teams like Man City and Chelsea. Will the club follow that path with other players? 

I wasn’t at the club when that deal was done. The most important thing is the potential of the player. We know the quality we have here. You can’t give (players) everything when they sign their first pro deal. [The salary] has to be ascendant. You sign for three years and then, in the second year, if it’s going well, we sit down to talk about a new deal when you finish in the youth categories. The players need to feel they are at home, that there’s no better place to be. La Masia, the development at Barça, no one else has that. Money is important but development is key. The money will come.

The departure of Xavi Simons made a lot of headlines…

I think he was fine here. He was at the best school there is in football. But he’s gone to Paris. We have to respect his decision. There’s no need to look at the past, we have to look at what will happen in the future. The important thing is that it doesn’t happen again (with other players).

Do you agree that players like Simons, Eric García and Robert Navarro should not return in the future?

You always have to leave the door a little open. It is difficult. When a kid chooses to leave La Masia, it’s a bitter pill for the people working here to take. Normally the door is closed, but I’m someone who always leaves it a little open, just a little bit, eh!

Ansu Fati’s father hopes the Barca star picks Portugal over Spain

Barcelona revelation Ansu Fati is now eligible to play for Spain after the government moved to make his nationalization official on Friday, yet his father would prefer him to represent Portugal.

Fati was born in Guinea-Bissau but has been in Spain for a significant period of time to be eligible for La Roja and it seems as though the 16-year-old will represent them in the U17 World Cup in Brazil in October.

The winger is also eligible to play for Portugal and his father, Bori Fati, says that it was his hope that his son would represent them instead of Spain.

“My dream was to see my son playing for Portugal and I think that was also his dream, but now it is difficult,” he told A Bola.

“Some time ago, I spoke with a director from the Portuguese Football Federation. The conversation was positive and we agreed to talk the following day but that person hasn’t called me back.

“Then, with these matches that he played, the pressure from Spain grew very strong and I’ve been contacted directly by the president of the Spanish Federation,” he added.

His father stated that he did not feel it would be tough to convince Ansu to play for Portugal as he loves the country.

“He feels Portuguese and so do I. And it would be easy for him to play for Portugal, it would be enough for Umaro Embalo, the Benfica player, to convince him.

“He is a great friend, and speaks every day with Ansu.

“Everything is in the hands of Ansu, he will take a decision now. “