Barcelona to atone for Bayern embarrassment, says Dani Alves

The Brazilian wants Barca to redeem themselves in Europe this season after their ignominious 7-0 aggregate defeat to die Roten in this year’s Champions League semi-final

Dani Alves says Barcelona will this season atone for their humiliating defeat in the Champions League semi-final to Bayern Munich by showing that it was an “accident”.

The Blaugrana were beat 7-0 on aggregate by the Bavarians, who beat Borussia Dortmund 2-1 in the final.

However, the Brazil international is confident the heavy loss and the failure to reach the Wembley showdown, is enough to make sure the club redeem themselves in their European campaign this season.

“There was no excuse for what happened,” the 30-year-old told Mundo Deportivo.

“And we really want to show this season that it was an accident.

“No one can lose a semi-final 7-0 – it is outrageous for a team of our level.

“We were deservedly knocked out, but the good thing about football is that sometimes you get a second chance.”

Alves also backed his former trainer Tito Vilanova’s decision to depart from football because of health issues and talked positively about Gerardo Martino’s newly introduced tactical concepts.

“Tito was a good assistant and coach for five years. As an assistant he had an important role,” he continued.

“But I think he has made the right decision – life is always more important than your career.

“There are some new concepts [under Martino], but I can assure you that they are working. We are coming up with new strategies and becoming stronger as a team.”

Barcelona will host Levante on August 18 to start off the 2013-14 season.

'Not your average Brazilian midfielder' – Arsenal target Luiz Gustavo

The 26-year-old will leave Bayern Munich this summer in order to earn his rightful place in Brazil’s midfield at next summer’s World Cup, with Arsene Wenger set to benefit

By Peter Staunton

Arsene Wenger has shown a predilection for German football in recent seasons. He raided the youth academies of Stuttgart and Borussia Dortmund for Serge Ngabry and Thomas Eisfeld, while also signing established internationals in the shape of Lukas Podolski and Per Mertesacker.

In Luiz Gustavo Arsenal are set to sign a player who is well steeped in German football culture, having lived in the country since his teenage years. “Discipline, punctuality, and the way people always behave properly and honestly,” was Gustavo’s response when questioned as to what he admires about Germans upon his arrival at Bayern. At one stage he even mooted the possibility of representing die Nationalmannschaft at senior level.

Falko Bloeding | Goal Germany

Luiz Gustavo leaving Bayern has been likely ever since Pep Guardiola’s prodigy Thiago Alcantara came in from Barcelona.

There is just too little space in die Roten’s midfield, especially with Pep going with a 4-1-4-1 formation.

Gustavo showed at the Confededations Cup in Brazil what he is capable of, yet in Munich he has to compete with Thiago, club icon Bastian Schweinsteger and record signing Javi Martinez.

A move to England is not a bad thing for Gustavo, who could establish himself at one of Europe’s best clubs and therefore play the number of matches that Luiz Felipe Scolari wants him to play ahead of the World Cup. Many Bayern fans will be sad to see him go, since he almost never had a really bad match. Competition just got too fierce for him.

Luiz Gustavo, then, is more than simply a Brazilian central midfielder. He is the progeny of two distinct football philosophies. As he said himself on the day he joined Bayern: “I could probably pull off a few tricks with the ball, but it’s not my style. I prefer things simple but effective.”

Despite a hard-earned and well-deserved reputation, Gustavo has now fallen quickly down the pecking order at Bayern Munich and is destined to join Wenger at the Emirates Stadium. That Bayern signed, in successive summers, Javi Martinez and Thiago Alcantara means there is space for Gustavo no longer. His versatility was lauded upon his arrival but is worth no extra credit now at Sabener Strasse.

Pep Guardiola is attempting to reinvent Bayern in his own image and instead of fielding two players deep in midfield, like his predecessors Jupp Heynckes and Louis van Gaal, is using only one. Bastian Schweinsteiger occupied that position on Friday night in the Bundesliga against Borussia Monchengladbach while Jan Kirchhoff fortified the midfield positions late on from the bench.

Martinez, coveted by Guardiola while he was in charge of Barcelona, and Thiago, a star pupil of the Barca finishing school, will feature heavily in the central positions while Toni Kroos remains a viable option. In any combination, it is evident that there will be scant opportunity for Gustavo to shine.

That would be a disaster for the 26-year-old, whose international career has prospered while his club stock has stalled. Initially selected for a friendly in August 2011, appropriately enough against Germany, Gustavo has gone on to establish himself as a first-choice player alongside Paulinho in a system that is similar – in a rudimentary sense – to that of Bayern under Heynckes. Given the talent and weight of numbers in and around the Brazil team under Luiz Felipe Scolari, Gustavo requires regular club action in order to safeguard his place. Bayern cannot offer that for him in a crucial World Cup season.

Wolfsburg, the other candidates for his signature, quite simply are undeserving of his presence in this stage of their development. This, after all, is a player who won everything there was to win last season for club and country, although he did not feature as often as he would have liked for Bayern, owing to the increased competition provided by Martinez. Perhaps due to his humble, unassuming nature, his technical quality can be obscured owing to the presence of more flamboyant team-mates like Franck Ribery and Neymar. He is a functional player and one who permits the attacking threats around him to flourish.

What was brought to wider appreciation during the course of the Confederations Cup were Gustavo’s chief strengths. He thrives on responsibility, recycling balls and effectively retaining possession for his side. While Paulinho could be regarded as the more dynamic of Brazil’s pivot, Gustavo is no less accomplished in possession. He has an accurate range of passing, short or long. He also boasts positional discipline and match instinct that carries him to vital areas of action. He is also capable of firing in a goal or two with a whiplash left foot when the opportunity arises. Gustavo has also deputised throughout his career in Germany as a central defender and his capabilities at left-back have also been noted. Aggression in the tackle forms a big part of his defensive armoury and as a consequence of that he retains a tendency to be booked often.

But this, doubtlessly, is a player who will add to Arsenal’s play. Complementing Mikel Arteta, Gustavo is the right kind of player to provide responsibility and assurance in the Gunners’ midfield. Arsenal, like Bayern, routinely dominate the possession statistics of matches and need a sure-footed insurance policy in the centre of the field when moves break down. It is an asset they currently cannot claim to have.

The man regarded in certain quarters as a German Arsene Wenger, Ralf Rangnick, resigned from his job as Hoffenheim coach owing to the sale of Gustavo in the winter of 2011. Now the man himself is about to see what the fuss was about.

Bayern need to be more compact, says Beckenbauer

The ex-Germany coach was not impressed with the Bavarians’ victory against Borussia Monchengladbach on Friday, but hailed Mario Gotze as an “exceptional” player

Honourary Bayern Munich president Franz Beckenbauer says Pep Guardiola needs to make his team more compact following their Bundesliga opening win against Borussia Monchengladbach.

Die Roten beat Gladbach 3-1 on Friday thanks to goals by Arjen Robben, Mario Mandzukic and David Alaba.

However, Beckenbauer was not impressed with the victory, saying his former side needed to tighten up at the back as there were too many spaces for their opponents to exploit.

“I was surprised at how Bayern struggled,” the 67-year-old told Sky.

“During the pre-season matches, they played flawlessly, except for the [DFL Supercup defeat] against Borussia Dortmund.

“On Friday, however, they played normally again.

“I’m curious as to how quickly they will be able to implement Guardiola’s philosophy and which players will prevail in the end.

“Shifting between offence and defence can still be improved. It’s important that Guardiola makes the team more compact.”

The 1990 World Cup winner went on to praise €37 million signing Mario Gotze, who scored twice during Bayern’s 4-1 friendly win against Gyor on Sunday.

“He shares exactly the same philosophy that Pep expects from the team,” he added.

“He’s exceptional with everything that happens on the ground. However, his team-mates should avoid providing him with high balls.”

Luiz Gustavo open to Arsenal move

The Gunners have agreed a fee with Bayern Munich for the Brazilian midfielder, who has now admitted that a move to the Emirates would benefit his career

Bayern Munich midfielder Luiz Gustavo has admitted he is interested in moving to Arsenal.

Goal revealed earlier on Monday that the Gunners have agreed a €20 million fee with Bayern for the Brazilian, and he has admitted that he wants to leave Bavaria and that the Emirates is an attractive destination.

“The Premier League is a great competition. Arsenal have a lot of tradition. I need a team that has space to play,” he was reported as saying by ESPN Brasil.

“It’s a delicate situation. I’m looking for the best option, the best decision. I am going to have to play, to stay in shape and carry on being called up [for Brazil].”

The 26-year-old has fallen down the pecking order at the Allianz Arena following the arrival of Pep Guardiola, who has signed former charge Thiago Alcantara from Barcelona this summer.

Luiz Gustavo was already in competition with Bayern icon Bastian Schweinsteiger and club record signing Javi Martinez before Thiago was drafted in, and reports in Germany suggest Guardiola has no interest in utilising the Brazilian this season.

Arsene Wenger has admitted that the club’s move for Luis Suarez is “on stand-by” after Liverpool rebuffed their latest offer of over £40m, though he has also revealed that he is always looking to bolster his squad.

Yaya Sanogo was brought in on a free at the start of off-season, but Wenger now appears to be closing in on his first major signing of the summer transfer window.

Arsenal close in on €20m move for Bayern Munich midfielder Luiz Gustavo

The Gunners will talk to the Brazilian, who is surplus to requirements under Pep Guardiola at the Allianz Arena, in the coming days after having an offer accepted over the weekend

By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent
Arsenal have had a €20 million bid accepted by Bayern Munich for midfielder Luiz Gustavo, Goal can reveal.

The Brazil international is expected to become the Gunners’ club record signing and Arsene Wenger’s first senior capture of the summer.

Arsenal will step up negotiations with Gustavo’s representatives in the coming days as they attempt to thrash out personal terms.

The 26-year-old is on international duty this week and Arsenal would need to be given the permission of the Brazil national team to hold direct talks with the player if they are to force through a quick deal.

Wenger made his move for Gustavo at the end of last week after Bayern chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge had admitted that they were willing to listen to offers for him.

Gustavo fell behind Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez in the German club’s central midfield pecking order last season and told Bayern he wanted to quit in search of regular football.

Reports in Germany have suggested that new Bayern boss Pep Guardiola has no plans to utilise Gustavo this season.

The Brazilian had been close to joining Wolfsburg but he is believed to be keen to move to a Champions League outfit as he targets a regular starting position ahead of the World Cup in his homeland next year.

Goal revealed in February that Arsenal had identified Gustavo as a key midfield target in the summer.

Arsenal made an enquiry for Gustavo in the January window but stopped short of making a bid after learning that Bayern were unwilling to sell him in mid-season.

The north Londoners have been keen to sign a battle-hardened midfield anchorman since selling Alex Song to Barcelona 12 months ago.

Arsenal pulled out of a move for West Ham powerhouse Mohamed Diame in January after failing to be convinced he was better than the options they already had in central midfield, most notably Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey and Abou Diaby.

However, Gustavo’s combination of authority and versatility has impressed Wenger and his scouts. The Brazilian is capable of slotting in at centre-back and left-back as well as his favoured deep midfield role.

The Brazilian, whose Bayern contract runs until 2015, was an intermittent starter for the European champions last season, although he was out for a month at the end of the season.