Messi, left out of the starting line-up for only the second time this season when fit, was called on in the 64th minute with the game poised at 1-1 after Leganes forward Martin Braithwaite had cancelled out Ousmane Dembele’s first-half opener with a 57th-minute strike.
The Argentine quickly provided the spark Barca needed by firing a venomous shot from the outside the area which was too powerful for goalkeeper Ivan Cuellar to hold, and Luis Suarez pounced to stab home on the rebound in the 71st minute.
The goal was awarded after a lengthy video assistant referee (VAR) review, with Leganes furiously claiming that Suarez had fouled Cuellar, who needed treatment on the pitch after being struck by the foot of the Uruguayan striker.
Messi made sure of the victory in stoppage-time, sweeping across the area and hammering the ball past a helpless Cuellar for his 18th goal of the season in La Liga, taking leaders Barca on to 46 points, five clear of nearest challengers Atletico Madrid, after 20 games.
“We played well, Leganes could do nothing in attack but we were just lacking precision in the final pass. They then scored out of nothing, but Leo came on and did what we know he can do,” said Barca midfielder Sergio Busquets.
There were worrying scenes for Barca when France forward Dembele was forced off injured midway through the second half after writhing on the floor in pain. The club later confirmed he had sprained his ankle.
Dembele has shaken off previous criticism over lapses in discipline to become one of Barca’s most productive players in recent weeks.
With Messi resting on the bench in the first half, Dembele was the team’s focal point in attack, frequently finding holes in the Leganes defence with thrilling bursts of pace and wild dribbles.
He put Barca in front shortly after the half-hour mark with a first-time shot in off the post, receiving a cut-back from Jordi Alba.
Dembele later combined with Philippe Coutinho which should have led to the Brazilian doubling Barca’s lead, but the club’s record signing fired just wide.
“Dembele has been in fantastic form recently after the controversy, he gives us speed, unpredictability and goals,” added Busquets on the Frenchman’s transformation.
“He was unlucky with the injury, we hope it’s nothing.”
Leganes, who stunned Barca by coming from behind to beat the champions 2-1 at home back in September, also refused to give in after conceding the opener and after limiting Barca’s attempts to stretch their lead, they drew level.
Danish forward Braithwaite slid in to meet a perfectly- weighted cross from Youssef En Nesyri and knock the ball into the net from close range for a second goal in four days after scoring against Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey.
Dembele narrowly fired wide, so Barca coach Ernesto Valverde turned to Messi to see Leganes off, and the club’s all-time top scorer duly delivered.
OFFICIAL: Atlético Madrid sign Luis Suárez
Barcelona have made official that Atlético and the Catalan side have reached an agreement for the transfer of Luis Suárez.
Suárez is staying in Spain. Barcelona confirmed on Wednesday evening that the club have reached an agreement with Atlético Madrid for the transfer of Luis Suárez.
After a summer full of speculation, the Uruguayan finally has his new team. Barcelona made it official on Wednesday evening. He has moved for 6 million in variables.
The striker has been linked with Ajax and Juventus in the window, but it is Atlético who have managed to sign him.
During his time at the club, Suárez played 283 matches for them and scored 197 goals.
Barcelona thanked the player in a statement on their website: “FC Barcelona would like to publicly express their gratitude to Luis Suárez for his commitment and dedication and wishes him all the best for the future.”
Atlético then shortly released their own statement saying: “Atlético de Madrid and FC Barcelona have reached an agreement over the transfer of Luis Suárez, subject to passing his medical and agreeing and formalising the Uruguayan’s contract with our club”.
Who will take Messi’s role at Barca?
Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembélé, and even Kylian Mbappé. There are several names linked with taking over from Leo Messi, but replacing the best player in the history of Barcelona is no easy task.
From Messi leaving to Messi staying there’s a lot of difference, a lot of changes to be made, a lot of history to go through. The possible exit of the Argentine star is the Barcelona fans’ worst nightmare.
According to what was published just a few days ago by ‘RAC1’, the Argentine forward has already reportedly told Ronald Koeman that he sees himself more out than in at Barcelona, adding that he doesn’t see his future at the Camp Nou clear at all.
A supposed outcome on the already famous meeting confirmed by Ramón Planes which has set of all the alarms, that has set off all the alarms, glimpsing in the horizon the possibility of seeing a Barcelona without its greatest referent, Leo Messi, the best player of all its history.
PSG, City, and Inter are the destinations that have been linked for the Barca forward to leave behind his unforgettable spell and start a new adventure far away from what has always been his home, from his team.
And the biggest concern now is finding the ideal replacement at Barca who for many is the best player in the world. Because, if Messi ends up leaving, who will replace a player like him?
¿Quién hará de Messi sin Leo?
‘Marca’ state Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembélé as the ones to take over from the Argentine star, but it is who will take Messi’s role at Barca that are greater words.
Amongst all the options the name Kylian Mbappé also appears, a player who is also followed with desire by Real Madrid and who could leave behind his successful spell at PSG, who he will play the final of the Champions League with in just 24 hours, to become the new Barcelona star.
Ferland Mendy: From wheelchair to La Liga champion- Inspiring story
French defender Ferland Mendy has entered the books as one of Real Madrid’s key players who drove through all odds to becoming the winners of Spain’s most celebrated league honour, La Liga in 2020. An inspiring journey that has more to it.
Mendy[ Ferland] now aged 23 today stands as one of the greatest inspiration to young players in modern times most especially to youths in Africa, the continent he originates from and more so by his hard-courageous journey to the top where he now plays for the club considered as the most successful of the last decade[2009-2019].
The right back who owes his origin to Senegal and Guinea Conakry where his father and mother came from respectively, was born in a small community in North Central France known as Meulin-en-Yveline on June 8, 1995 and reportedly lost his father at a teenage age. But the ever determined and die-heart football fan did not saw his dream of becoming a footballer like is icon Brazil’s Ronaldinho.
The lad joined a local club Equevilly in 2002 and showcased his talent with the outfit till the year 2002 when he was spotted and transferred to Paris Saint Germain Academy. This, due to his excellent performance. He trained at and represented for club for 8 years before a health complication grounded him.
Ferland Mendy suffered medical complications including swelling hip joint, overall weakness and general overdose of fatigue. A situation which put the youngster under treatment for more than a year and saw him staying on a wheelchair for 6 months. While on wheelchair, the Franco-Senegalese was told by his Doctor that he may not be able to work again.
But fortunately for the 14-year-old, his medical complications reduced and gave way the chance not only to walk but to join a 4th division club, Mantois 78 in France where he hoped to get himself fit for football again. There, Ferland was transformed from striker to left back but kept the fire burning.
Excellent performance with Mantois led to French Ligue 2 outfit, Le Hauvre signing the promising star in 2012. A club he featured for in 47 occasions and scoring once. His speedy offensive playing style attractive a 5 Million US Dollar deal from Ligue 1 club O. Lyon which he joined in 2013.
Mendy played 57 matches for the club and now holds a record 102 successful dribbles in two Ligue 1 seasons, the best by any player. This combined with his strength and speed saw him moving to Spanish giants, Real Madrid on July 1, 2019 where he won the 2019/2020 La Liga title with the Spain capital city under manager Zinedine Zidane. A record 34th for Real Madrid.
He played 25 La Liga matches for the club this season and netted once. Ferland Mendy’s successful pairing with the likes of Sergio Ramos, Varane and Marcelo at the club is considered to have played a great role in the team’s success this season as they recorded over 16 clean sheets.
Mendy and Real are still in contention of the 2019/2020 UEFA Champions League title where they will face Manchester City at the quarter finals with the lad looking forward to win his first UCL title and continue representing France. A country he has played four senior matches for and is battling for the left back position with his name sake, Manchester City’s Benjamin Mendy.
DEWAH Fabrice TEH
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