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Barca presidency race heating up

 By Lee Roden

Sergi Roberto seeking to impress Luis Enrique at Barcelona

FC Barcelona head coach Luis Enrique has spelled out his ambition to win three more titles before the year is out.

Patience is not a virtue Sergi Roberto lacks. The Tarragona native has been going on preseason tours with the FC Barcelona first team since 2010, working hard to make an impression that could lead to competitive minutes later on.

With the pay-off never arriving, he finds himself back in the same situation this summer, hoping yet again for his big break. For once, that hope may not be in vain.

Talked up as the next big thing to come out of La Masia in his teenage years, the memory of the enormous...

Real Madrid, Barca, Sevilla's different approaches to the transfer market

ESPN FC's Craig Burley speculates that the Spanish giants might be holding out on selling Sergio Ramos' to Manchester United with their eye on a trade for David de Gea.

The cast list? David De Gea, Sergio Ramos, Aleix Vidal, Marco Asensio, Arda Turan, Yevhen Konoplyanka, Steven N'Zonzi, Adil Rami, Danilo, Nicolas Otamendi, Gael Kakuta and Ciro Immobile. The film title? "Star Wars: The Revenge of The Transfer Market."

If you pose the following question -- "Were transfers always as bizarre, tense, idiosyncratic and eccentric as they are now?" -- the answer would have to be a resounding no. When clubs could buy at any time of the year business was easier to do,...

Barcelona fall to Manchester United in Leo Messi's absence

Wayne Rooney, Jesse Lingard and Adnan Januzaj all notched goals as Manchester United defeated Barcelona 3-1.

Barcelona were deservedly defeated by Manchester United 3-1 in their second match of the International Champions Cup. Rafinha scored a late goal for the Blaugrana, who enjoyed 61 percent of possession, created 18 goal-scoring chances and attempted 13 shots, six of them on target and three to the post.

There was little more than the players' pride at stake when the two major European clubs met on Saturday. However, Luis Enrique took the game seriously and decided to field a strong starting XI consisting...

 By Andy Mitten

Manchester United renew Barcelona rivalry with another U.S. meeting

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney sits down exclusively with ESPN FC to discuss his emotions following their 2009 and 2011 Champions League defeats to Barcelona, who have become one of the benchmarks in football over the past decade.

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Think of games between Manchester United and Barcelona games and the Champions League finals of 2009 and 2011 jump to mind. The two games still provoke frustration among United fans, players and coaches, because a very good team didn't do themselves justice on either occasion.

"We knew how to play against Barcelona and we did that for the first 10 minutes, but you need to do it for 90 minutes," recalled United's then-goalkeeping coach Eric Steele of the 2009 final in Rome. "You...

 By Sid Lowe

Louis van Gaal vs. Barcelona conjures memories of his Camp Nou times

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney sits down with ESPN to discuss United's preseason tour, their latest signings and Louis van Gaal's honesty.
Manchester United head coach Louis van Gaal accidentally called Chris Smalling, Mike, in a post-game interview.
ESPN FC's Craig Burley believes there's no need for Louis van Gaal to be critical at this point in the year because players are just searching for fitness.

The following is adapted from chapter 16 of Fear And Loathing in La Liga, by Sid Lowe.

When Louis Van Gaal meets Gerard Pique this weekend, he could be forgiven for looking up at the Barcelona defender -- all six-feet-four-inches of him -- and thinking, "Pfff, I won't be trying that again in a hurry." If it wasn't for the fact that admitting he's wrong isn't really something Van Gaal does, he might even reflect that maybe, just maybe, he was wrong back in 2000. More likely, the pair of them will...

 By Simon Kuper

Johan Cruyff, father of modern soccer, fades on the sidelines

ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti discusses the most influential footballers, managers and administrators and their growing importance.
Johan Cruyff talks to the media after casting his ballot in Barcelona's recent presidential election.

On the face of it, Johan Cruyff lives a retiree's life. The 68-year-old grandfather is so detached from day-to-day work that intimates say he doesn't have email or a mobile phone. He migrates between his mansion in Barcelona and a second home in Amsterdam, where locals like to report sightings of "Johan" cycling around or eating fries.

He hasn't had a full-time job since Barcelona sacked him as coach in 1996. He doesn't want one, either. However, Cruyff does crave influence. Arguably the spiritual...