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Hunter: Neymar has a tough choice

La Liga
 By Sid Lowe

Amid Barcelona's transition, Messi is more important than ever before

The ESPN FC panel assess how Luis Suarez's absence with affect Barcelona's formation and tactics as La Liga commences.
Steve Nicol and Sid Lowe discuss Barcelona's transfer needs as the club continue to pursue Coutinho and Dembele.
For the first time as a Barcelona defender, Gerard Pique admits he feels inferior to Real Madrid after their Super Cup defeat.
The guys answer your tweets on Barcelona's needs and wants and if Ernesto Valverde is merely a placeholder coach.

Lionel Messi admits that there is a simple trick he tries when the going gets tough and the game is slipping away. He looks for Andres Iniesta and says: "come closer."

On Wednesday night, as Real Madrid overran Barcelona, he couldn't -- Iniesta was 600 km away, injured -- and, when the league campaign begins on Sunday evening at home to Betis, he won't be able to either. Messi won't see his teammate unless he glances to the stands. Nor will he see Luis Suárez, who has a knee problem. And as...

Lionel Messi will sign his new Barcelona contract soon - Jordi Mestre

Shaka Hislop feels Lionel Messi's new Barcelona contract is perfect for the continued rivalry with Ronaldo.
Lionel Messi has signed a new three-year deal to remain with Barcelona until 2021.

Barcelona vice-president Jordi Mestre has reassured fans that Lionel Messi will soon sign a contract extension.

Argentina superstar Messi agreed terms on a new deal until 2021 last month, with the club saying it would be signed in the near future.

Messi -- who has been at Barcelona since the age of 13 -- has yet to put pen to paper, however, with his current contract ending next summer.

The new terms include an increase in the player's release clause to €300 million.

Speaking during the unveiling...

La Liga preview: Can rampant Real keep Barcelona and Atletico at bay?

Sid Lowe explains why he doesn't think any clubs will pose a challenge to Real Madrid in the La Liga title race.

Real Madrid's quest to maintain supremacy over Barca in Spain looks likely this season but then again, you never know what to expect. Graham Hunter previews the 2017-18 La Liga season.

Key storylines

With all due respect to Neymar's quest to persuade us that his move to Paris has more to do with ambition than finance -- good luck with that one, kid -- the three biggest storylines in world football all reside in Spain.

They are the narratives of Leo Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane.


ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Gianluigi Buffon, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo up for UEFA award

Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane believes Cristiano Ronaldo's five game ban is an excessive punishment for pushing the referee.

Gianluigi Buffon, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the three shortlisted players for the UEFA Player of the Year award.

The award, which was created in 2011, will be presented at the Champions League group stage draw on Aug. 24, with Real Madrid star Ronaldo the favourite to win it for the third time in four years after his outstanding performances helped Los Blancos to become the first club to retain the trophy.

Ronaldo scored five goals in the quarterfinal victory over Bayern Munich, with...

Barcelona miss Neymar as Gerard Deulofeu fails to fill the void

After a 0-0 first-half, Leg 1 of the Spanish Super Cup produced dives, several golazos, and a highly controversial red card.
Alejandro Moreno reflects on Barcelona's loss to Real Madrid in the Super Cup and the highs and lows of Ronaldo's display.

Barcelona will have to win at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday to retain the Spanish Super Cup after they were beaten 3-1 by Real Madrid on Ernesto Valverde's official debut.

An even first leg exploded to life in the second half after Gerard Pique's own goal gave Madrid the lead at Camp Nou. Lionel Messi equalised from the penalty spot when Keylor Navas brought down Luis Suarez, but Zinedine Zidane's side pulled away in the final 10 minutes.

Cristiano Ronaldo came off the bench to edge Madrid...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Football gets the Hollywood treatment: previewing the season in movie form

The FC panel delve into their 2017-18 Premier League title predictions.
Craig Burley explains why Ousmane Dembele is a perfect example of the power players possess when it comes to transfer requests.

Like it or not, football feels a lot more epic these days. Every big transfer is a saga worthy of the full cinematic treatment and every big game seems suited to the big screen.

With that in mind, we've sketched out some of the storylines set to rule over the 2017-18 season and imagined how they'd translate to Hollywood.

Posters designed and illustrated by Neil Jamieson

Tottenham's new stadium won't be ready until 2018, which means they're playing the current campaign at Wembley Stadium....