Sockless Mina looks to learn from Barcelona teammates

Barcelona’s new signing Colombia’s Yerry Mina gestures during his official presentation at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018. (AP)
Updated 13 January 2018
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Sockless Mina looks to learn from Barcelona teammates

MADRID: Newly signed Barcelona defender Yerry Mina took off his shoes and socks before stepping onto the field at Camp Nou Stadium during his official introduction to fans on Saturday.
For the young Colombian, it was an important first step into his new home.
“There is a verse in life that says that the soles of your feet will touch the land that you want to conquer,” Mina said. “And I want to make history here. I want to triumph.”
The 23-year-old Mina was signed from Brazilian club Palmeiras for 11.8 million euros ($14.3 million), “fulfilling a dream” and joining a defense that has been depleted by the injury of France international Samuel Umtiti.
He is set to become the first Colombian to play an official match with the Catalan club.
“I want to add my grain of sand, learn from my teammates,” the easy-going defender said. “We know the quality of my teammates, they are extremely good. Little by little I want to learn and work hard to become a good fit to the squad.”
Barcelona’s defense also has Gerard Pique, Javier Mascherano and Thomas Vermaelen, who has been playing as a starter in Umtiti’s absence.
The tallest player in the squad at 1.95 meters (6-foot-4), Mina is known for his speed and impressive play with the ball at his feet. He is a threat on set-pieces and often makes runs forward.
“I’ve always enjoyed Barcelona’s style,” Mina said. “It’s gratifying that it’s a style that I like.”
Mina’s contract is valid until June 2023 and has a buyout clause of 100 million euros ($119 million).
Barcelona initially had an agreement with Palmeiras to bring Mina in the middle of this year for about 9 million euros, but agreed to pay extra and advance the deal because of the hamstring injury to Umtiti, who hasn’t played since December and is not likely to return until next month.
Mina and Palmeiras already knew of Barcelona’s interest when he was signed from Colombian club Independiente Santa Fe at the beginning of 2016.
Mina had helped Santa Fe win the Copa Sudamericana in 2015, and was key for Palmeiras when it won the Brazilian league in 2016 and was runner-up in 2017. He was named one of the league’s best defenders in 2016.
Mina scored nine goals in 49 matches with Palmeiras, celebrating with his traditional dance moves.
“I always try to express what I feel while I’m on the field,” he said. “We’ll see how it goes here. I’ll adapt to what the group wants to do.”


Al-Ittihad banking on experience of Saad Al-Shehri to replace Ramon Diaz

Updated 39 min 14 sec ago
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Al-Ittihad banking on experience of Saad Al-Shehri to replace Ramon Diaz

  • Al-Shehri led the young Green Falcons to the last eight of the 2018 Asian Games
  • Diaz was fired on Saturday after two defeats in the opening two games of the Saudi Pro League season

JEDDAH: Al-Ittihad are not hanging around in replacing manager Ramon Diaz as the Jeddah club are set to appoint Saudi Arabia U-23 coach Saad Al-Shehri as their new boss.
Diaz was fired on Saturday after two defeats in the opening two games of the Saudi Pro League season.
The 3-0 defeat at home to Al-Qadisiyah at the weekend sent the eight-time champions to the bottom of the table and resulted in the instant dismissal of the Argentine who was handed the reins only in May.
Al-Shehri has a growing reputation. Without any over-age players, the 38-year-old led the young Green Falcons to the last eight of the 2018 Asian Games which included a famous 4-3 win over a strong Chinese team in the second round and then a narrow 2-1 loss to finalists Japan.
“The question for the club now is one of stability in the coaching side,” an Al-Ittihad official told Arab News. “There have been a lot of changes and it is time to grow the club and Al-Shehri could be the man to settle everything down. He deserves a chance.”
Al-Shehri is regarded as the opposite of Diaz. The 59-year-old South American had a stellar playing CV and a long coaching resume that stretches back to 1995 while the Saudi Arabian saw his promising career cut short through injury.
So far, the former physical education teacher has been heavily involved in youth football, winning titles at that level with Al-Ittifaq and Al-Nassr before leading the U-20 team to the knockout stage of the 2017 World Cup and a hard-fought 1-0 loss to Uruguay.
“He is young but has had plenty of time to prepare for a coaching career after he finished as a player in his early twenties,” added the official. “His football is more positive as we saw at the Asian Games and the players enjoyed that experience and he also knows the local players really well. Al-Ittihad want to play more aggressive football than under Diaz. He wasn’t here a long time but the style of play did not fit the expectations of fans.”
The club are keen to get the deal done as soon as possible, though Al-Shehri is holding out for a contract until the end of the season. In the meantime, Bandar Basirah will take temporary charge of the team for the crucial trip to Al-Taawon on Thursday, a team that has drawn its first two games of the season.
“I am proud to be part of this big club and I thank the management here for having faith in me,” Basirah said. “I don’t have a magic wand to wave to change everything overnight but we will do everything we can to make the fans happy. We don’t have much time to prepare for the next game but I trust the players and we are all focused on getting the victory and get our season really started.”
At the very least, there is a desire to play more entertaining football. “We know that we haven’t been at our best this season so far but we have studied the opponent well and are ready to get the three points.”
Assuming that Al-Shehri comes in sooner rather than later, there will be funds available to strengthen the team. President Nawaf Al-Muqairn has promised fans that better times are around the corner.
“We will give our players a chance in the coming weeks but when the time comes, we will not hesitate to strengthen the team with local and foreign talent.”