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OFFBEAT

Barcelona sign 9-year-old Swedish boy wonder

Nine-year-old Swedish footballing prodigy Zico Jr Marecaldi will leave his home town of Malmö in southern Sweden this week to move to Barcelona after having been signed up by the all-conquering Catalans.

Barcelona sign 9-year-old Swedish boy wonder

“I am going on Wednesday. It’s going to be great fun,” he said to the local Skånska Dagbladet daily after playing his final match for BK Olympic.

Zico thereby follows in the footsteps of Swedish stars Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrik Larsson in trying to carve out a career at the Nou Camp.

While the youngster has some way to go before emulating the achievements of Zlatan and Henke, the gutsy boy will takes his first steps by moving in to the Fundacion Marcet academy. His father is set to join him in Spain 4-5 months later.

“Zico is going to board with all the others at the academy. This feels good, there he can get to know all his new friends,” Zico’s father Antonio Marecaldi told the newspaper.

Zico, it seems, is a childhood FC Barcelona fan and Argentinian star Lionel Messi is his idol. The young boy’s namesake is however the silky-skilled Brazilian midfielder who played in several World Cups in the 1980s.

While FC Barcelona have first refusal on the young footballers at the academy, it is international and thus the young prospects can become the targets of other professional clubs.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson

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FOOTBALL

Croatian player tests positive ahead of Sweden match

Croatian midfielder Marcelo Brozovic tested positive for Covid-19 on Friday, a day ahead of the country's Nations League match with Sweden, the Croatian football federation (HNS) said.

Croatian player tests positive ahead of Sweden match
Croatian midfielder Marcelo Brozovic (left) tested positive for coronavirus on Friday. Photo: Miguel Medina / AFP
“Brozovic's Inter Milan and Swedish epidemiologists were informed about the positive test,” an HNS statement said.
   
The player's positive result came two days after defender Domagoj Vida was informed of a positive Covid-19 test after playing the first half of a friendly with Turkey in Istanbul.
   
Apart from Brozovic, 27, one staff member also tested positive.
   
They were both isolated from other members of the national team.
   
After Sweden, Croatia play another Nations League game against Portugal on Tuesday.
   
Croatia, runners-up at the 2018 World Cup, are third in their Nations League group which also includes France, the team that beat them to the World Cup, Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal and Sweden.
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