Rising star Yusuf Demir is earning his stripes as Barcelona’s No.11

Several legendary players have worn Barcelona’s No.11 shirt over the years, from Carles Rexach and Txiki Begiristain to Brazilian superstars Rivaldo and Neymar. Now, it belongs to Yusuf Demir and the 18-year-old is working hard to earn his Blaugrana stripes.

The winger was signed by Barcelona on loan from Rapid Vienna in the 2021 summer transfer window, with a purchase option that they could trigger next summer for €10m. When he arrived in Catalonia, Demir had already played 38 matches at senior level for the club from Austria’s capital, scoring nine goals and providing four assists in the process, plus he had just made his senior national team debut in March. Such a CV at such a young age had made him a nominee for the 2021 Golden Boy award, which recognises the best U21 player in Europe.

Given his young age, Demir was initially signed to play for Barcelona’s B team. However, he was so impressive in pre-season that coach Ronald Koeman promoted him to the first-team squad, following in Hans Krankl’s footsteps to become only the second Austrian to play for Barça’s senior side. His rising star status was confirmed further when the teenager inherited the prestigious No.11 shirt from Ousmane Dembélé, who switched to No.7 over the summer.

After wowing Koeman in training with his work ethic and his special left foot, Demir made his competitive debut for the Blaugrana away at Athletic Club in Matchday 2 of the 2021/22 LaLiga Santander season, becoming the Catalan club’s youngest foreign debutant in the league since Lionel Messi in 2004. More appearances have since followed and Demir has been one of the bright sparks in what has been a difficult start to the campaign for Barça overall.

Yusuf comes from a footballing family; his cousins Berke Kuvvet and Kerim Kuvvet play in Austria and his younger brother Furkan Demir is currently part of the Rapid Vienna youth system. And he has obvious natural talent. When he dribbles, arguably his greatest attribute, the ball appears to be glued to his boots as he keeps it so close, not letting opposition defenders anywhere near it.

There’s a lot more than just natural talent, though, as Demir has also been widely praised for his work ethic. That’s how he earned his promotion from the B team to a place in the first-team squad so quickly, taking pre-season as seriously as he would any other game and even scoring a goal in the friendly victory over Stuttgart.

Despite the rollercoaster past few months, in which Demir has suddenly found himself in starting line-ups for Barcelona, the youngster is keeping his feet on the ground. “It’s very intense and it took me a moment to adapt at first,” he admitted after his first competitive minutes with the team. “But then I got used to it and I’m very happy to have played my first match for Barcelona. I hope to play many more times for this team. It’s an honour to be at this club, a dream that’s come true and one that I worked very hard for.”

If Demir keeps working hard and keeps the good performances up, he can convince the club to extend his loan into a permanent deal. As a bright spark in an otherwise tough season so far, don’t bet against him doing just that.

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Five things you might not know about Radamel Falcao


Falcao is back in LaLiga Santander eight years after leaving Atletico de Madrid, this time with Rayo Vallecano. The Colombian superstar has started with a bang too, proving that quality is truly permanent.

1. Falcao kicked off his second spell in LaLiga and career at Rayo Vallecano in tremendous form. The Colombian is just the third player in Rayo history to score in his first two LaLiga Santander games for the club in the 21st century. The first was Moises Arteaga in 2001, the second a certain Diego Costa in 2012.

2. His chosen squad number at Rayo (3) is an odd one for a striker, but one filled with personal importance. It was the number his father Radamel Garcia, a centre-back, wore during his career and is a tribute to the man who died in 2019.

3. In fact, his name is another tribute. His parents named him Radamel Falcao in tribute to former Brazil midfielder Paulo Roberto Falcao, widely considered one of the greatest Brazilians of all time and a long-time legend at both Internacional and AS Roma.

4. Falcao is known as ‘The Tiger’ thanks to a popular sports TV show back in Colombia, ‘El Tigre de Esso,’ ‘The Esso Tiger.’ During the early days of his career, River Plate teammate Gonzalo Ludeña – who is still a close friend – gave him the nickname which has stuck ever since.

5. Falcao may be a footballing superstar, but he’s a huge fan of another sport too: baseball. He lived in Venezuela, where his father played professional football, between the ages of 5 and 10 and developed a love for the country’s most popular sport.

In fact, in an interview with France Football back in 2019 he expressed his desire to play the sport once he retired from football: “I love baseball. When I was little, in Venezuela, where I grew up, it was the sport I practiced, at a very good level… I often talk about it with my wife. I think when I finish my football career, I’ll start one as a professional baseball player.”

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This Week in LaLiga…

What has been going on in LaLiga this past week? Here are 10 of the top stories, from Asensio’s hat-trick to Ansu Fati’s long-awaited return.

Here’s all you need to know from a busy week in LaLiga which included back-to-back midweek and weekend matchdays.

Ansu Fati’s triumphant return

Barcelona’s 18-year-old superstar Ansu Fati hadn’t played since last November due to a knee injury, but the young forward was able to return to action on Sunday against Levante. The Barça fans at the Camp Nou were thrilled to see him back on the pitch, 323 days after his last appearance – and he even scored the third goal of his side’s 3-0 victory to earn a standing ovation.

La Real overcome the injuries

Despite missing 10 players due to injuries, Real Sociedad stayed strong and were up to the challenge, beating Elche 1-0 on Sunday. The Basque side have now taken 16 points from their first seven matches of the LaLiga Santander season, propelling them up to second place, behind only Real Madrid.

Three in three for Falcao

Radamel Falcao has had the perfect start to his Rayo Vallecano career. After scoring on his debut against Getafe, the Colombian centre-forward then netted a stoppage time winner in a 2-1 midweek victory at Athletic Club, before producing the go-ahead goal as Rayo overcame Cádiz 3-1 on Sunday. The newly promoted side are now up to fifth in the table – their best ever start to a top flight season.

Benzema hits 200

Real Madrid enjoyed a big midweek victory, defeating RCD Mallorca 6-1 – but that wasn’t the only cause to celebrate. Karim Benzema hit a milestone during the win: his 200th LaLiga Santander goal. The Frenchman is just the 10th player to ever hit that number.

Asensio’s hometown hat-trick

Real Madrid’s midweek victory over RCD Mallorca was also special for Marco Asensio. He celebrated his return to the starting line-up against his boyhood club with the first hat-trick of his Real Madrid career – which was also the first three-goal haul for any player this LaLiga Santander season.

Alavés’ first win comes against the champions

After failing to pick up a point across their first five matches of the season, Alavés finally tasted victory this weekend, against current champions Atlético de Madrid no less. A 1-0 win over the Rojiblancos meant Alavés were finally able to put some points on the board and to do so in impressive fashion.

Iñaki Williams matches Larrañaga’s record

This weekend Iñaki Williams matched the record the most consecutive matches played in LaLiga Santander history. It’s now an incredible 202 in a row for the Basque forward, who drew level with Juan Antonio Larrañaga’s record. Williams hasn’t missed a match since April 2016, an absolutely remarkable run, and will this coming weekend break the historic record.

Some good news for Getafe

With Getafe yet to pick up a point, it hasn’t been a good start to the season for the Azulones. However, there was some good news this week as Jakub Jankto’s injury isn’t as bad as it first seemed. The Czech winger had to be stretchered off during their clash against Atlético de Madrid in midweek and it appeared he may have suffered a leg break. Thankfully, that isn’t the case and Jankto’s injury is a sprained ankle, meaning he can return in just a few weeks.

Support for La Palma from across LaLiga

The Cumbre Vieja volcano eruption in La Palma has wreaked havoc on the Canarian island and has been a huge news story in Spain and across much of Europe over the past week. LaLiga, as well as its clubs and players, have expressed support for all those affected, Tenerife’s players have taken to the pitch with a message of ‘We are La Palma’ on their shirts, while other teams joined together behind a banner of ‘Strength and support for La Palma’ before kick-off in their fixtures.

ElClasico: it’s set

The date and time of the first ElClasico clash of the season has been set. FC Barcelona will host Real Madrid at the Camp Nou on Sunday October 24th, with the biggest club match in the world kicking off at 4.15pm CEST.

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LaLiga joins forces with Dapper Labs to launch an all new digital collectible experience for football fans around the globe

Built by the team behind NBA Top Shot, this new experience will give football fans the ability to collect and own some of the most awe-inspiring and iconic in-game Moments from their favourite LaLiga clubsThe new experience will launch on Flow in Summer 2022, and will feature both current and historical Moments from over a decade of play

Madrid, September  2021. Dapper Labs and LaLiga have today announced a partnership to introduce Official Football NFT Collectible Highlights at scale. Created by the team behind NBA Top Shot, this new experience will give fans the opportunity to collect and own some of the most talked-about contemporary and iconic in-game Moments from their favourite teams from over 10 seasons of play. Featuring dynamic video-based Moments from all of LaLiga’s clubs, including Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Atlético de Madrid, Sevilla FC, Villarreal CF, Valencia CF, Real Betis, Athletic Club, Real Sociedad, RCD Mallorca and many others, the new experience will be available to fans on Flow blockchain starting June 2022.

Fans entering the all-new experience will instantly be immersed in football culture, having the opportunity to buy, collect, and own some of the most notable in-game Moments. Through a dedicated peer-to-peer marketplace, fans will be able to buy or sell parts of their collections with fellow football enthusiasts. Every purchase can be made via credit card through a Dapper wallet to ensure that every transaction is as easy as possible.

“The partnership between LaLiga and Dapper Labs will bring us even closer to our fans worldwide through a new and growing medium, and alongside the industry partner that created the NFT video product for the NBA,” said Javier Tebas, president at LaLiga. “This experience will place football fans all over the world at the very centre of the action, giving them a platform and product that allows them to enjoy and express their passion for LaLiga in a unique way.”

With access to both current Moments and a rich archive of historical Moments, the new experience will also give fans the ability to enjoy the rich heritage of one of the best leagues in the world. Fans will learn about age-old rivalries between teams, find out more about the league’s golden past, and deep dive into the fascinating stories of teams and players with experiences that bridge the past and present.

Though a blockchain-based experience, the product will also give fans a way to be a part of the in-game action. Through a variety of fan activations developed around key tentpole events during the season, fans will be able to enter contests to be in with a chance of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities such as being flown to Barcelona to watch ElClasico, the biggest football game in the world, from a VIP Box at Camp Nou.

“We couldn’t be more excited to be partnering with LaLiga to launch the ultimate fan-driven highlights collectible experience that is unlike anything in the space before,” said Caty Tedman, Head of Partnerships for Dapper Labs. “With over 3.5 billion football fans around the globe, the experience’s layered environment has the power to revolutionize how fans connect to the sport of football and how they engage with the teams and players they love, both virtually and in real life. We look forward to working alongside LaLiga, home to some of the best clubs  on the planet, to bring this wildly new and dynamic fan-driven experience to football lovers everywhere.”

“As Barcelona’s captain for a decade, I enjoyed some of LaLiga’s greatest moments. I also experienced some of the game’s biggest lows; but in spite of it all, the game would be impossible to play without our fans,” said Carles Puyol, six time LaLiga champion, three-time UEFA Champions League champion, and captain of FC Barcelona from 2004 to 2014. “Fans give us the energy that encourages us not to give up. They help us dig in when we’ve got nothing left and they give us support when we need it. To be part of an experience that brings players one step closer to their biggest fans is exciting and meaningful. I look forward to what this relationship holds.”

Like NBA Top Shot, the new experience is built on the Flow blockchain, developed for consumer experiences at scale. Flow allows fans to trace and verify the authenticity and scarcity of their digital collectibles.

This agreement is also part of the efforts of LaLiga North America – the joint venture between LaLiga and Relevent Sports – which plays an active role in searching for new attractive partners and industries to work with LaLiga.

For more information on the new experience and how to sign up in advance for experience, please visit dapperlabs.com

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