Swansea seal deal for Amat
Thu, 27 Jun 2013 21:13:00
Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has backed old nemesis Jose Mourinho to make a successful return to Chelsea but insists Real Madrid will not be weakened by the departure of the 'Special One'.
Mourinho quit the Bernabeu recently before returning to Stamford Bridge and Messi, who first crossed swords with the Portuguese coach during his first spell with the Blues, believes he will be just as successful second time around.
The Argentina captain also expects his club's arch rivals to be as competitive as ever in the Primera Division next season after Los Blancos brought in Carlo Ancelotti to replace Mourinho.
"I think the Spanish league is difficult anyway and will continue being difficult," said Messi, who visited the Senegalese town of Saly today as part of the Aspire Academy's Football Combating Malaria project.
"We'll be fighting against strong teams with great players like Real Madrid. Mourinho was a great coach but we know that Ancelotti is equally great. I think Mourinho will also succeed back at Chelsea because he's a great manager."
Barca recently acquired Neymar from Santos after a long pursuit, with some commentators suggesting the Catalans may struggle to accommodate both Messi and the Brazilian forward in their XI.
Messi, though, has no such concerns.
"I know Neymar is a great player who is going to bring a lot to Barcelona," he said. "God willing, we will be able to play together at Barca."
Former Barca coach Pep Guardiola will take over at Bayern Munich next season hoping to build on the German side's superb campaign last year, which saw them easily win the Bundesliga and also lift the Champions League.
Messi believes his old boss will make the Bavarian outfit even stronger and is relishing the competition.
"I think we have a great team and great players, as we've shown over the years," he said. "I think the arrival of Guardiola will make Bayern stronger. Winning the Champions League is always difficult and our objective is trying to win everything and succeed in all competitions.
"That's how we work at Barcelona.
"You talk of Germany dominating football recently - I don't know what is going to happen in the future. I know Germany have a history of great teams in global football at international level and club level. Winning the Champions League is difficult for anyone, whether they are from Germany or Spain.
"But I know Germany had a great year last year."
Messi is under pressure to deliver for Argentina, having never really reproduced his club form at international level, and realises next year's World Cup in Brazil is a real opportunity to finally win a trophy for the Albicelestes.
"If God wills it, then we will win the World Cup," he added. "We still have a year to go until the next tournament and we need to keep developing and improving.
"We still have some way to go but I think we have time. We need to keep improving and it would be a dream for us to win the World Cup."
Swansea have completed the signing of Jordi Amat from Espanyol for a Â£2.5million fee, subject to the defender completing his medical.
The 21-year-old has long been on manager Michael Laudrup's radar, and he becomes the second summer arrival at the Liberty Stadium, with the services of Real Betis midfielder Jose Canas already secured.
A statement on the Swansea website said: "Swansea City have completed the Â£2.5m signing of central defender Jordi Amat from Espanyol, subject to a medical and international clearance."
Amat, who spent last season on loan at Rayo Vallecano, has agreed a four-year contract.
Swansea have made offers for a number of players over the past couple of weeks, with Amat the first among them to join the club.
The Swans have tabled potential club-record offers for Lyon striker Bafetimbi Gomis and Vitesse Arnhem's Wilfried Bony, with the fee for the latter understood to be around the Â£10million mark.
Bony's agent, Francis Kacou, had told Arnhem newspaper De Gelderlander a Â£10.2m deal had been done for the Ivory Coast international.
But Vitesse posted a statement on their website which read: "Various media have reported that Wilfried Bony is to transfer to Premier League club Swansea City. This message is incorrect.
"There is admittedly much interest in the striker, the top scorer in the Eredivisie last season, and Swansea City are one of the interested clubs. However, a transfer is not the case.''
Despite Vitesse's statement, it is understood a deal is likely to be completed in the coming days for Bony to become Swansea's record signing, as Laudrup looks to ease the goalscoring burden on Michu.
The fee would almost double the Â£5.55million paid for Pablo Hernandez last
Real Betis midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo is also set to join his former team-mate Canas in south Wales, while Swansea are looking to bring Jonathan de Guzman back to the Liberty Stadium on a second season-long loan.
Bids have also been lodged for Birmingham winger Nathan Redmond, and Standard Liege forward Michy Batshuayi.