Suarez uncertainty gives Trincao space to shine at Barcelona

Barcelona’s Portuguese forward Trincao, center, in action during the pre-season friendly match against Nastic at the Johan Cruyff Stadium in Barcelona on Saturday. (AP)
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Updated 15 September 2020

Suarez uncertainty gives Trincao space to shine at Barcelona

  • The 20-year-old has been touted as a ‘talented and quick’ player with tremendous potential

MADRID: With the future of Luis Suarez uncertain, young forward Francisco Trincao has an early chance to shine with Barcelona.

The 20-year-old Trincao just joined the team but could get some extra playing time as the club ponders what to do with Suarez, who was told by new coach Ronald Koeman that he is not in the Dutchman’s plans this season.

Trincao took advantage of his first chance on the field with Barcelona by impressing fans and Koeman in a 3-1 win over Nastic in a friendly on Saturday.

“I liked how he positioned himself, sometimes coming in from the inside and sometimes from the outside,” Koeman said. “He has quality and will start adapting to the speed and rhythm of the ball. He was a great signing.”

Barcelona paid Portuguese club Braga more than €30 million ($35 million) in the beginning of the year to acquire Trincao on a five-year contract. He finished the season with Braga and joined Barcelona last month.

Trincao was put in a tough spot right away as he was officially introduced by the Spanish club a day after Lionel Messi announced he wanted to leave. But he showed that he has some off-the-field foot skills, too, in sidestepping questions about Messi and not making headlines.

Barcelona brought in Trincao touting him as a “talented and quick” player with tremendous potential. He has been with Portugal’s youth teams and helped the under-19 squad win the European Championship in 2018 as its top scorer.

He showed some of that talent and quickness after entering the friendly against Nastic by displaying good ball control under pressure and beating defenders. He was named by Spanish media as one of the best players in the match.

Trincao can also play on the flanks, especially through the right side, but he might face greater competition there than in the middle of the attack as Barcelona also count on more experienced youngsters such as Ansu Fati and Ousmane Dembele. Martin Braithwaite, who arrived last season, is also an option for Koeman in the attack. The club is also reportedly looking at other options, with Memphis Depay and Lautaro Martínez among those rumored to join the club.

“I can play in all positions in the attack,” Trincao said. “I’m here to help any way I can.”

Trincao is expected to have his second opportunity when Barcelona take on Girona in another friendly on Wednesday. The club’s final preparation match ahead of its Spanish league debut will be against Elche on Saturday.

Barcelona’s first league game, against Villarreal at home, is scheduled for the final weekend of the month. Their matches in the first and second rounds were postponed because of the team’s participation in the Champions League in August.

It was Barcelona’s embarrassing 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the quarterfinals of the Champions League that led to the arrival of Koeman and the revamping of the squad.

Messi eventually decided to stay, but Suarez was among the players who were told that they were not in the new coach’s plans. Suarez remains with the club and has been practicing normally, but he was not included in Koeman’s squad for last Saturday’s friendly. He has been linked to transfers to clubs such as Inter Milan, Juventus and Atletico Madrid.

But with lingering uncertainty over the Uruguay striker’s future, Trincao will continue to have chances to impress Koeman and gain a spot on the team.

Liverpool’s Mane sinks 10-man Chelsea, Son hits four in Spurs rout

Updated 20 September 2020

Liverpool’s Mane sinks 10-man Chelsea, Son hits four in Spurs rout

  • Sadio Mane scored twice as Liverpool exploited Chelsea’s frailties to win 2-0
  • Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen was sent off at the end of the first half for hauling down Mane

LONDON: Sadio Mane tormented Chelsea as the Liverpool forward struck twice after sparking Andreas Christensen’s dismissal in the champions’ 2-0 win, while Son Heung-min scored four as Tottenham crushed Southampton 5-2 on Sunday.
Mane was involved in the turning point at Stamford Bridge as the first clash between Premier League title contenders this season swung Liverpool’s way.
In first half stoppage-time, Jordan Henderson picked out Mane’s run behind Christensen and the Denmark defender responded by rugby-tackling the Senegal star to the ground.
Referee Paul Tierney initially booked Christensen, but VAR told him to consult the pitchside monitor and he changed his decision to a red card.
Mane grabbed his first goal of the season in the 50th minute as he met Roberto Firmino’s cross with a thumping header after eluding Reece James’ slack marking.
Mane was gifted his second goal as Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga made a hash of trying to play out from the back, allowing the Liverpool forward to intercept and slot into the empty net.
It was the latest costly blunder from Kepa, who was dropped twice by Chelsea manager Frank Lampard last season despite his status as the world’s most expensive keeper.
Lampard will be relieved that Chelsea are reportedly close to signing Rennes’ Senegal international Edouard Mendy as he looks to replace Kepa.
“It was a clear mistake and Kepa accepted that,” Lampard said.
Thiago Alcantara made his Liverpool debut at half-time after his move from Bayern Munich, but the Spain midfielder conceded a 74th minute penalty with a foul on Timo Werner.
Alisson Becker came to Thiago’s rescue as he saved Jorginho’s spot-kick.
After their chaotic 4-3 win over Leeds on the opening weekend, this was a return to the kind of dominant display Liverpool produced so often en route to their first English title for 30 years last season.
“Chelsea were the dominant side without goals but then a massive game-changer which was good for us,” Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp said.
“After the red card, the second half is a different game. We kept the ball rolling, let them run, scored the goals. Everybody had a hand in the result.”
While Chelsea have spent £200 million ($258 million) on new signings in a bid to close the gap on the champions, Liverpool remain streets ahead of the Blues at present.
“The red card changes the face of the game. I think it could be given or not,” Lampard said.
At St. Mary’s, Jose Mourinho hailed Son and Harry Kane after the pair destroyed Southampton.
Just 24 hours after Tottenham signed Gareth Bale, Son delivered a virtuoso display that showed Mourinho’s side already have plenty of firepower.
Bale has returned to Tottenham on a season-long loan from Real Madrid seven years after he left the north London club.
Danny Ings put Southampton ahead in the first half, but Son equalized before the break and scored three more in the second half, with each of his goals coming from Kane assists.
Kane, who hit the back of the net twice in the first half only to have them ruled out for offside, capped a swaggering display with his second goal of the season.
“Son was on fire and for me Harry Kane was the man of the match, what he did for the team,” said Mourinho, whose side had lost their league opener against Everton.
“With him dropping back and connecting the game between the lines for Sonny to attack, the space they created was a problem they couldn’t resolve.”
Neal Maupay’s quick-fire double inspired Brighton’s 3-0 win against Newcastle as the Seagulls claimed their first Premier League victory of the season.
Graham Potter’s side raced into a two-goal lead after just seven minutes at St. James’ Park thanks to the brace from French striker Maupay.
Aaron Connolly grabbed the third for Brighton, who had Yves Bissouma sent off after his raised boot caught Jamal Lewis in the face.