Messi Returns to Barcelona Training

first_imgBarcelona begin their La Liga campaign against Villarreal on 27 September.Messi failed to attend the club’s testing for Covid-19 on 30 August and has been absent from training since sending a fax informing the club of his wish to exercise a clause in his contract which he believed would allow him to leave for free with immediate effect.Both Barcelona and La Liga insisted that clause was no longer valid – with any club wishing to buy him required to pay a release clause of 700m euros (£624m).La Liga president Javier Tebas said at the launch of the 2020-21 La Liga season on Monday he was “never seriously worried” Messi would leave Barcelona this summer.“We want Messi to be with us. He is the best player in the history of football and we want him to end his career in La Liga,” said Tebas.“He has been with us for 20 years and we are so pleased he is staying with us and not going to another league.”Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Barcelona’s all-time top scorer Lionel Messi has returned to training following his failed attempt to force a move away from the club.Messi, 33, submitted a transfer request on 25 August but said last Friday he would stay because it is “impossible” for any team to pay his release clause.It is the first time the Argentine has trained with his team-mates since the arrival of new manager Ronald Koeman.last_img read more

Trojans head to Westlake to begin year

first_imgThe No. 2 USC men’s tennis team begins its first tournamentof the season today at the Sherwood Collegiate Cup in Westlake, Calif. The tournament will run through the weekend, and much like last year, the Trojans enter the season hoping to defend their back-to-back NCAA titles.Heavy shoulders · USC will lean on the leadership and experience of junior Steve Johnson, who ranks as the nation’s No. 6 singles player and is presently ranked as the tournament’s top seed. – Daily Trojan file photo The tournament remains a good opportunity for the team to show their competition what they have been preparing for in the offseason, but it will also serve as an early testament to their level of preparedness for the remaining slate.“Personally the most difficult part of this match is the pressure to start the season strong,” junior Daniel Nguyen said. “The tournament will be tough because for most of us this will be our first few matches of the season.”The importance of starting strong is perhaps of particular importance, given the high standards the team has set for itself through the success of the past few seasons.“I think coming back from winter break strong and making a statement by doing well and having one of our players win will be the most difficult and most important,” freshman Michael Grant said.USC is returning five players from its 2010 national championship team in seniors Jaak Poldma and Peter Lucassen, juniors Daniel Nguyen and Steve Johnson and sophomore JT Sundling.These veterans will have help from a cast of players, including freshmen Michael Grant and Ray Sarmiento, both of whom had strong fall seasons.USC also recently signed freshman Emilio Gomez from Ecuador to add depth to the team.“We’ve been lucky to have the depth necessary to go far, and it looks like we have it again this year,” USC coach Peter Smith said. “When we get to that point in the season where we’re playing really big matches, we have some experience on our side and we really hope to use that. The last thing we can do is try to maintain what we did.“We don’t just want to maintain; we’ve got to get better and better and better and keep proving ourselves. Our competition is out there trying to get better and we need to match that passion.”The path to victory will be a tough one, and it all begins Friday.“Every year, every team wants to win it all,” Smith said. “We’ve been pretty fortunate the last two years to do it. It’s definitely our goal again, and we’ll go for it with every ounce of our beings.”last_img read more

Water polo looks for NCAA tournament berth

first_imgFreshman goalie Nic Porter makes a save against UCLA. He earned MPSF Newcomer of the Week with nine saves. (Josh Dunst | Daily Trojan)After last Saturday’s win against UCLA, the men’s water polo team will begin its postseason this weekend in home waters for the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament. Tournament play begins Friday at 9 a.m. and will conclude with the championship match at 1 p.m. Sunday.The Trojans are looking for an NCAA berth and will enter the tournament as the No. 2 seed behind Stanford. USC has a bye in the first round and will play Cal, Penn State Behrend or Austin College in the semifinals on Saturday, depending on Friday’s results.  A Trojan victory on Saturday would mark USC’s 12th consecutive win for their 20-win season. Last year, the team finished 27-4 overall, winning the 2017 MPSF Tournament and reaching the NCAA final for the 13th straight year. The 2018 Trojans are hoping to continue their winning streak and add a 10th NCAA title to the storied program’s collection of trophies. Just days after the team collected its 11th straight victory, freshman goalie Nic Porter earned the Trojans’ ninth MPSF Newcomer of the Week award of 2018. Porter had nine saves against UCLA, including a vital stop in the final minute to secure the victory. His ninth save secured an 11-11 tie entering the final minute of regulation. Now a four-time award winner, Porter matches freshman driver Hannes Daube’s tally of honors to date. Freshman guard Sam Krutonog also has a win to his name, giving USC nine of the 11 newcomer accolades doled out by the conference this season. The Trojans are currently leading the MPSF both offensively and defensively with 16.34 goals scored per game and just 5.34 goals-against per game. “We always want to improve our efforts at both ends of the pool,” Porter said. “Our offense has been firing lately, but we were disappointed to concede 11 goals against UCLA last time out. There’s been an added emphasis on defense this week and this is due to the attacking threats that Cal’s team poses.”USC beat Cal twice during the regular season, and the teams are expected to face off on Saturday. The team aims to claim its third consecutive MPSF Tournament crown and extend its streak of trips to the NCAA final to 14 in a row. “The team has had success in the MPSF tournament in recent years, so the older players and coaches are familiar with how to be successful in this tournament,” Porter said. “We come into this tournament with a lot of confidence, but determined to play some of our best water polo and qualify for the NCAAs.”last_img read more

NFL tight end rankings 2020: George Kittle rules, Rob Gronkowski returns to top 10

first_img Zach Ertz Zach Ertz, EaglesFile Ertz as another established statesman in the 6-5, 250-pound club. The 29-year-old played well through injuries last year with more of a burden on him, given the depleted state of the Eagles’ wide receiver corps. Ertz falls behind Kittle, Kelce and Henry because the blocking and big-play flair aren’t as impactful, but he continues to be the most trusted force all over the field for Carson Wentz.2019 stats: 88 catches on 135 targets, 916 yards, 6 TDs in 15 games5. Mark Andrews, RavensAndrews has emerged so well in the Lamar Jackson-led passing offense that he made Hayden Hurst, who went in the first round of the 2018 draft, expendable. Andrews, the third-rounder from ’18, has delivered as the athletic “move” option from that class, showing toughness to go with his wide receiver-like athleticism at 6-5, 256 pounds. Andrews has a monster future ahead, given he will turn only 24 in September2019 stats: 64 catches on 98 targets, 852 yards, 10 TDs in 15 games6. Darren Waller, RaidersWaller, going back to his Ravens’ days, has worked hard to make s successful conversion from wide receiver, even overcoming some off-field obstacles along the way. At 6-6, 256 pounds, Waller was a late bloomer during his age 27 season, stepping up as the team’s top target in the wake of the Antonio Brown mess. He can still become better as a blocker, but some of that pressure will be off Waller with the team expected to use more two tight end sets with Jason Witten in 2020.2019 stats: 90 catches on 117 targets, 1,145 yards, 3 TDs in 16 gamesMORE: Wide receiver rankings, 1-257. Tyler Higbee, RamsHigbee (6-6, 255 pounds) got his chance to make a bigger impact as a receiver last season because of Brandin Cooks’ injury woes, and he didn’t disappoint as a key intermediate target for Jared Goff. The 27-year-old has been rock-solid blocking and proved he’s more reliable than Gerald Everett in the passing game. He immedaitly rewarded the Rams for giving him a four-year, $31 million extension.2019 stats: 69 catches on 89 targets, 734 yards, 3 TDs in 15 games8. Austin Hooper, BrownsHooper (6-4, 254 pounds) is coming off a strong age 25 season in Atlanta. That turned out be his last as a Falcon, as he cashed in wtth a tight end-best four-year, $42 million deal with Cleveland in free agency. Hooper, like fellow former Stanford star Ertz, is more natural at receiving than blocking. As the Falcons try to replace him with Hurst, Hooper will step into frequent two-tight end sets with David Njoku to help settle Baker Mayfield on intermediate routes through the red zone.2019 stats: 75 caches on 97 targets, 787 yards, 6 TDs in 13 games9. Rob Gronkowski, BuccaneersKeeping in mind age and durability, it seemed fair to keep Gronkowski down here as he starts over as a 31-year-old working back into his mighty best playing shape at 6-6, 268 pounds. Gronkowski might be more of a complementary target to the Bucs’ elite wideouts in his reunion with Tom Brady, but he has the mental and physical skills to be refreshed as a dangerous target everywhere in Tampa Bay’s new base two-tight end sets.IYER: Why Bucs opponents have it wrong to doubt Gronk2019 stats:  Did not play (Getty Images) 10. Evan Engram, GiantsThe only question with Engram — and it’s not insignicant — is whether he can stay healthy to have consistent impact as the go-to guy for Daniel Jones after booming early with Eli Manning. Engram has massive upside as a receiver, enough to offset his serious limitations as a blocker. At 6-3, 240 pounds, this feels like a boom-or-bust age 26 season for the 2017 first-rounder. If Engram is good to go early in the season in recovering from his troubling foot injury (Lisfranc), he can have a season much bigger than his fine rookie campaign.2019 stats: 48 catches on 68 targets, 467 yards, 3 TDs in 8 games The NFL tight end landscape welcomes back Rob Gronkowski in 2020. “Gronk” returns for his age 31 season with a new team, the Buccaneers, after taking a year off from the end of his Patriots tenure.Reunited with Tom Brady in a loaded passing offseason, Gronkowski can be a refreshed, highly impactful player. But while he was gone, a younger wave of tight ends started to flex more in 2020. In the same blocking, receiving and fun-loving spirit is George Kittle, catching passes and making big plays for Gronk’s former teammate, Jimmy Garoppolo. George Kittle George Kittle, 49ersKittle being on the losing side of Super Bowl 54 doesn’t change the fact he’s the game’s best all-around tight end, better than the victorious Chiefs’ Travis Kelce. After setting the receiving yardage record (1,377) for the position in 2018, Kittle, 26, remained a dominant force in both stretching the field and dominating as a blocker for the 49ers’ elite running game. He is natural athletic freak and also carries an intimidating streak at 6-4, 250 pounds. That’s a good complement to the hardworking fun he has playing the game.2019 stats: 85 catches on 107 targets, 1,053 yards, 5 TDs in 14 games2. Travis Kelce, ChiefsThe 30-year-old hasn’t slowed down much as the Chiefs’ go-to intermediate receiver. Kelce (6-5, 260 pounds) has rolled into a new level of big-play production with Patrick Mahomes, even if there was some scoring regression in Year 2 with the QB. Kelce has great hands and uses his quickness well to consistently win on his routes. Like Gronk and Kittle, he plays the game with fiery exuberance.2019 stats: 97 catches on 136 targets, 1,229 yards, 5 TDs in 16 games3. Hunter Henry, ChargersHenry has major promise for his age 25 season as he gets further away from the offseason knee injury that wiped out all of what could have been a special 2018 third NFL season. He is another physical receiving presence with simliar stature (6-5, 250 pounds) to the guys right in front of him. He has been a strong possession receiver, but he should become a better downfield threat in 2020 on top of his sturdy blocking.2019 stats: 55 catches on 76 targets, 652 yards, 5 TDs in 12 games (Getty Images) As a future Hall of Famer, Gronk is worthy of going right back into the top 10. But with the position in a state of more promising transition, he doesn’t land back near the top with both some established and emerging younger options.MORE: The best and worst starting QBs for the 2020 seasonHere’s ranking the best tight ends in the league, from Kittle to a potenital comeback player of the year:NFL tight end rankings 2020last_img read more