Perez double as Barcelona beat Iniesta’s Kobe 2-0

Vissel Kobe’s Andres Iniesta and FC Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets compete for the ball during Saturday’s match. (AFP)
Updated 28 July 2019

Perez double as Barcelona beat Iniesta’s Kobe 2-0

  • Belgian Thomas Vermaelen becomes latest high-profile player to move to Japanese club

KOBE: Carles Perez scored his first two goals for Barcelona as the Spanish giants won 2-0 against a Vissel Kobe side featuring Andres Iniesta, a legend of the Catalan club.

As Kobe’s Iniesta, David Villa and Sergi Samper were all reunited with their former team, it was Perez who stole the limelight with a top-class double.

The 21-year-old, a product of Barcelona’s academy, played a one-two inside the box and nutmegged the goalkeeper for his first goal, and fired a stunning left-footer for his second in the dying minutes.

Iniesta had his chances and 28,000 fans sighed their frustration as he put a fierce shot just wide.

“It was my first goal for Barcelona and I’m glad to score even two,” Perez said.

“It’s been my dream to score goals for this great team since my childhood,” he added.

The win wrapped up Barcelona’s pre-season friendlies in Japan following their 2-1 loss to Chelsea earlier this week.

Meanwhile, Belgian international defender Thomas Vermaelen has become the latest high-profile player to move to Vissel Kobe.

The 33-year-old, whose contract with Barcelona has now expired, will team up with David Silva, Lucas Podolski and his former Barca captain Andres Iniesta.

Vermaelen, who is reported to have turned down an offer to join Vincent Kompany at Anderlecht, passed his medical and visited the club’s training complex.

“I’m very excited to be here to help the team, to improve the team,” he told a news conference in Kobe, western Japan, ahead of the match between Bercelona and Vissel Kobe.

“I will do all my best to make this team better and I will show you that I will give my everything for this club,” he said.

Vermaelen said he planned to share his experience at Barcelona with the Japanese club, saying: “I try to bring the complete package into this team.”

Vermaelen began his career at Ajax before moving on to Arsenal and Barcelona with a loan spell at Roma.

He has played 74 times for Belgium, most recently in the 3-0 Euro qualifier win against Scotland in June.

Vissel Kobe are currently 15th in the 18-team J-league.


Premier League players’ ‘backs against wall’ over virus, says Rose

Updated 05 April 2020

Premier League players’ ‘backs against wall’ over virus, says Rose

  • Top-flight stars have come under increasing pressure to take pay cuts from govt officials

LONDON: Newcastle defender Danny Rose is willing to contribute a portion of his wages to those fighting the coronavirus outbreak but says Premier League players feel their “backs are against the wall.”

Top-flight stars have come under increasing pressure to take pay cuts from government officials after a number of clubs said they would use public money to subsidize pay for nonplaying staff.

The Premier League said on Friday that clubs would consult players over a combination of pay cuts and deferrals amounting to 30 percent of their annual salary.

They agreed to provide a £125 million ($153 million) fund for the English Football League and National League and pledged £20 million in charitable support for those affected by the coronavirus.

Talks were due to take place on Saturday between the league, clubs and players’ representatives.

Newcastle, where Rose is on loan, and his parent club, Tottenham, are among clubs to have furloughed some nonplaying staff during the crisis, prompting criticism as players continue to receive their full salary.

“We’re all keen to make something happen,” said Rose.

“I can only speak for myself but I would have no problems whatsoever contributing some of my wages to people who are fighting this on the front line and to people who have been affected by what’s happening at the minute.”

On Friday, a hospital in London identified Rose as the individual behind a £19,000 donation to hospital funds.

Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson led talks between Premier League club captains over what action they could take, a move that begun before Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Thursday joined those singling out footballers.

“We sort of feel our backs are against the wall,” Rose said. “Conversations were being had before people outside of football were commenting.

“I’ve been on the phone to Jordan Henderson and he’s working so hard to come up with something.

“It was just not needed for people who are not involved in football to tell footballers what they should do with their money. I found that so bizarre.”

Wolves captain Conor Coady said it was time for players to help out.

“It’s fantastic to see people trying to make the effort,” he said. “It’s something everyone wants to be part of. As footballers, it’s important we help as many people as possible.

“What’s come out now is the 30 percent cut. We get judged every single day of our lives. The time now is to go forward and make a donation.”

On Saturday, Burnley said they would face a shortfall of up to £50 million if the Premier League season could not be completed.

“It’s a completely unprecedented situation that we and other Premier League clubs face and which we could not have foreseen in anyway only just a few weeks ago,” said Burnley chairman Mike Garlick.

“It’s now not just about Burnley or any other individual club any more, it’s about the whole football ecosystem from the Premier League downwards and all the other businesses and communities that feed from that ecosystem.”