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Leo Messi taking a free kick against Celtic / PHOTO: Miguel Ruiz - FCB

• Barça’s future No. 9 spot is in good hands

“It has been a long time since Barcelona relied upon a striker who was an out and out No9 in the old fashioned centre-forward mould,” writes football pundit Graham Hunter as he analyses the role played by recent centre forwards that have donned the Blaugrana colours. Even though Barça haven’t utilised an out-and-out striker in its system for years, the author believes that could change in the near future.

Hunter has his eye on Jean Marie Dongou, the 17-year-old from Cameroon. The youngster is “noticeably learning his trade, has accepted with good grace when it´s time to sit on the bench but then prove that the last ten minutes can still be match-winning time -  he´s on track to be special,” says Hunter.

“For the moment it´s worth following this stage of Dongou´s development. He, along with Sergi Samper, Grimaldo, Deulofeu, Rafinha, Patric, Sergi Roberto and Sandro, are firm evidence that the structure, philosophy, teaching style and recruitment at all levels in the ´fútbol base´ system are functioning healthily.”

Read Graham Hunter's article in its entirety here.

• The special relationship between Celtic and Barça

totalBarça’s Alexandra Jonson visited the Camp Nou on Tuesday night for the Champions League clash between FC Barcelona and Celtic Glasgow. Jonson, in her article titled FC Barcelona & Celtic FC – A special relationship, delves into what’s behind the camaraderie shared by the Blaugrana and The Bhoys and “why two clubs which play such different styles of football have so much mutual respect and love for each other.” She goes on to quote FC Barcelona vice-captain Xavi Hernández: “Celtic, like Barcelona are more than a football club. Our clubs are a symbol of culture and community that has not always been made welcome in their respective countries.”

After the match, Jonson interviews a Celtic FC supporter to get his take on the relationship between the two sides: “Catalan fans are genuinely nice people and make us feel welcome here. We have the same values. We are both more than a club . . .  A love for not only the game of football but both clubs are built on the shoulders of their fans. Love, respect and heart.”

Read Alexandra Jonson's article in its entirety here.

• The three best players in the world in one body

Michael Cox, writing for theScore, makes that case that Leo Messi may be the best three best football players wrapped up in one body. Before Cox makes his case, he recounts The Guardian’s Simon Burnton’s interview with Billy Beane, the man who revolutionized the National Baseball League in the United States with his innovate take on sports economics.

“When Beane was asked who the most underrated footballer was, the Moneyball mastermind had a fine answer. ‘You know, I’d actually say Lionel Messi,’ Beane declared. ‘He’s so remarkable, watching him play, he’s probably still undervalued. When you’re scoring five goals in one Champions League match, there’s no value that’s too high,’” writes Cox.

Cox then launches into his case for why Messi just might be underrated: “For the majority of top footballers, take away their main asset and they’d become an average player. You can basically do three things when you get the ball: dribble, pass, or shoot. Messi can do each to an astoundingly high level.”

Read Michael Cox's article in its entirety here.

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