Bellerin leaves Barcelona to make Sporting switch

By Sports Desk January 31, 2023

Hector Bellerin has left Barcelona to sign for Primeira Liga side Sporting CP on a permanent deal.

The full-back started his career in Barca's youth ranks before Arsenal brought him to the Premier League in 2011, where he went on to become a first-team regular.

However, after falling out of favour under Mikel Arteta, the London side agreed to terminate his contract with one year left to run and Bellerin returned to Barca on a free transfer.

The 27-year-old has now left the Spanish giants for a second time, though, having made just seven appearances in all competitions since rejoining in September.

While Sporting's Primeira Liga title hopes look over, Bellerin will hope to help his side in the Europa League, with the club due to face Midtjylland in the knockout round in February.

Bellerin's arrival at the Portuguese side comes as fellow attack-minded right-back Pedro Porro departs the club for Tottenham.

Related items

  • Martinez dreaming big at Euro 2024 as Portugal boss defends Ronaldo inclusion Martinez dreaming big at Euro 2024 as Portugal boss defends Ronaldo inclusion

    Roberto Martinez is daring to dream as Portugal prepare to open their Euro 2024 campaign, where ageing star Cristiano Ronaldo has been selected "on merit".

    Portugal are the favourites to top Group F in Germany, opening their tournament against Czechia on Tuesday before facing Turkiye and Georgia.

    Martinez's side were the only team to win 100 per cent of their games in the qualifying campaign (10/10), while they also scored more goals than any other team (36).

    The former Belgium manager has major-tournament pedigree, too, guiding the Red Devils to third place at the 2018 World Cup and quarter-finals at Euro 2020.

    Going further on this occasion remains at the forefront of the Spaniard's mind.

    "We must believe, we need to dream big," the Portugal head coach said at Monday's pre-match press conference.

    "If we don't dream big, then it will be tough. But we also owe it to everyone to play well.

    "Tomorrow will be the right time to show that we're ready, that we can meet all the expectations. 

    "I brought seven shirts, not three. But now we need to put it all out there on the pitch for these first three matches."

    Portugal have the likes of Joao Felix, Diogo Jota and Goncalo Ramos to call upon in attack, though a familiar face remains in Ronaldo.

    The five-time Ballon d'Or winner holds the record for most games (25), most goals (14), joint-most assists on record (six – since 1972) and most editions with at least one goal (five) at the Euros.

    Indeed, since 1972, Ronaldo has scored/assisted twice as many goals as any other player at this tournament: 20 in total (14 goals, six assists). Michel Platini is second on 10 (nine goals, one assist).

    Ronaldo is also the European player with the most appearances at major tournaments, World Cup and Euros combined (47), therefore his inclusion is hardly a surprise.

     

    "Cristiano is in the national team on merit," Martinez added. "Nobody gets into the national team just by having a name.

    "Cristiano scored 51 goals in 50 games [for Al-Nassr last season].

    "For us he is a goalscorer, someone who can make that final move, someone who can really stretch defenders, really open spaces.

    "Obviously, over the years Cristiano has changed his way of playing slightly, but I can only say that Cristiano is in the national team on merit and the numbers are there to back that up."

    Ruben Dias says Ronaldo's influence spans further than his influence on the pitch, however.

    "I would say he represents inspiration, he represents that everything is possible, he represents that you can dream and you can achieve it," the Manchester City defender said.

    "It's obviously a pleasure to have him with us in this moment of his career. He represents to us that he really wants to win again and he's our captain and obviously we follow him to the end."

  • Belgium 0-1 Slovakia: VAR twice frustrates Lukaku as Red Devils suffer shock defeat Belgium 0-1 Slovakia: VAR twice frustrates Lukaku as Red Devils suffer shock defeat

    Romelu Lukaku saw two goals disallowed and Belgium squandered a glut of golden opportunities as Slovakia claimed a surprise 1-0 win in Euro 2024 Group E.

    Lukaku twice thought he had restored parity in the second half, only for both goals to be ruled out after VAR checks.

    Slovakia led from the seventh minute, with Ivan Schranz having thumped the underdogs into the lead with what was his nation's fastest goal at a major tournament, finishing calmly from a tight angle after Jeremy Doku's error had put Belgium in trouble.

    That opener came after Belgium had missed two brilliant chances, with Lukaku not managing to beat Martin Dubravka from close range before Leandro Trossard failed to find the striker in acres of space in the area.

    The trend continued after the restart – Lukaku seemed to have levelled when he tapped home from Amadou Onana's knockdown, only for a VAR check to deem he had strayed offside.

    Johan Bakayoko had an effort cleared off the line before Lukaku drilled in from Lois Openda's cutback late on, only for the latter to be penalised harshly for handball as the world's third-best side suffered a shock defeat.

    Data Debrief: Red Devils run out of Luk

    Lukaku missed a glut of chances in the quarter-finals against Spain at Euro 2020, and he was guilty of spurning some fantastic chances, though he was also incredibly unfortunate to see those two goals ruled out.

    Belgium mustered 1.9 expected goals, with Lukaku responsible for 0.8 of that, but the Red Devils' luck was out. They sit third in Group E, with Slovakia joining Romania on three points after causing the first big upset of Euro 2024.

    It is the first time Belgium have lost since 27 November 2022, against Morocco in the group stage of the World Cup, marking an end to their second-longest unbeaten run ever of 15 matches (W10 D5).

  • Iordanescu hails 'limitless generation' of Romania players following landmark Ukraine win Iordanescu hails 'limitless generation' of Romania players following landmark Ukraine win

    Romania head coach Edward Iordanescu believes his current generation of players have limitless potential following their triumph over Ukraine in their Euro 2024 opener.

    The 46-year-old watched on as his side claim their biggest win at an international tournament, building on their impressive qualifying campaign. 

    Captain Nicolae Stanciu opened the scoring with a fine effort from distance, becoming the first player ever to score at the tournament while playing for a Saudi Arabian club. 

    Razvan Marin and Denis Dragus would secure the triumph in the second half, with both strikes assisted by Dennis Man, the first Romanian to provide multiple assists in a major tournament match since Gheorghe Hagi at the 1994 World Cup. 

    The sound of the full-time whistle sparked emotional scenes for the travelling Romanian contingent as they confirmed just their second win at the European Championships.

    Iordanescu masterminded a landmark victory for his nation, but was quick to dismiss labelling the win as a victory of a lifetime, heaping praise on the current crop of talent within his ranks. 

    "I'd like to thank every Romanian everywhere in the world. I know that they were with us today. It was a fantastic effort by my team. If you had any doubts, I think you can believe me now that this is a great team. Congratulations to the lads. It's just incredible.

    "Since I joined the national team I've had difficult moments. It's not always been easy. We've had other big performances. We've had golden generations with big performances, but this generation represents the soul.

    "This team has put the biggest effort into everything. As big a heart as this team, nobody has ever had. This generation is limitless."

    Romania travel to Cologone to face Belgium in their penultimate group fixture before facing Slovakia on June 26. 

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.