By Tim Stannard
1) More internal attacks for Messi
One way that Barcelona might want to consider lowering the spiraling wage bill at the club is to rid themselves of a few middling suit types who appear to be causing all the trouble this week, making Gerard Pique look taciturn in the process.
First off, it was the club’s Chief Executive openly opining that Leo Messi’s contract renewal might be a little expensive. This has been followed up on Friday by the club’s Director of Institutional Relations, Pere Gratacos, - which sounds like a fantastic job – noting that without Iniesta, Neymar, Pique and others, Leo would not be as good a player.” It’s a valid point, but not one that is going to calm an apparent rift between board and players at the Camp Nou.
“I’m not going to play this game,” sighed a weary Luis Enrique at a press conference ahead of Saturday’s league clash with Las Palmas in response to the comment. It’s been a week where the ship was steadied on the pitch with a win against Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey but the waters are still full of institutional sharks.
Tune into the XTRA from 7PM ET / 4PM PTfor a full preview of Saturday morning’s clash against Las Palmas for Barcelona.
2) Barça paired with tough task in Copa del Rey
And sticking with clickbait-Barcelona, the Camp Nou club have been drawn against Real Sociedad in a tough all pairing for the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey, which were drawn on Friday. Real Madrid have been stuck with Celta Vigo with Atletico Madrid getting Eibar. The clash that everyone is going to forget about is Alcorcon against Alaves. Double-A in name, but that’s about all.
Don’t forget that the Copa del Rey is exclusively on beIN SPORTS with the games taking place next Wednesday and Thursday. Woo hoo!
3) Payet to resettle at Stamford Bridge and fake news at Arsenal
Transfer news! Hull City have made a couple of signings. But SB suspects that no one really cares that much. We have a potentially completely made-up story on the horizon, though, with Chelsea apparently set on signing the on-strike Dmitri Payet from West Ham, despite the maudlin midfielder pining for Marseille.
Arsene Wenger has said that he is surprised by the stance taken by his countryman but blames the concept of a winter window as being a destabilizing factor for many footballers and clubs.
"Once you are on the train at the start of a season, you stay on the train until the end of the season,” tooted the Arsenal manager. And as for the story that the club were signing Torino’s Andrea Belotti? – “fake news”. It gets everywhere.
4) Conte matches Mourinho in manager of month stakes
And it seems that the super Swede was quite right with His Majesty winning the Premier League player of the month award for December after five goals and three assists. "I am playing in a great team with great team-mates, a great coach and at a great club," said Zlatan in a fine attempt at modesty.
Chelsea boss, Antonio Conte, won manager of the month for the third time in a row. The Italian has now received the same number of prizes as Jose Mourinho.
5) Britain can Konta on new tennis champion
Move over Sir Andy! Please. Britain’s Johanna Konta was the apple of the UK eye on Friday by winning the Apia International down in Sydney overnight, a clash that was live on beIN SPORTS as part of the channel being the new home of the WTA. It was a second ATP title win for the Brit after a convincing 6-4 6-2 victory over world No.3 Agnieszka Radwanska.
WHAT IS SPORTS BURST?
The life philosophy of Sports Burst is that if you are not upsetting someone, then you are not trying hard enough. SB is a daily trawl and troll through the morning's sports news to bring you fact-nuggets to make you both smile and swear. Hopefully at the same time.