Tag: La Liga

We Predict… The 2018-19 Season

You do realise that it’s been nearly one whole month since the FIFA World Cup finished, right? Three-and-a-bit weeks have passed since France dismantled Croatia in Moscow, which in our minds means we’ve been deprived of top class football for far too long. It’s about time the 2018-19 season kicked off and we get back to what really matters. Cast aside the mundane pre-season tours and friendlies for the real, proper, competitive, edge-of-your-seat drama acted out by the best players football has to offer.

After all, that’s what we’re all here for. The big leagues and the big names. And in 2018-19 those big names have a lot to answer for. There’s a mouthwatering title tussle in England while Cristiano Ronaldo sets out on his new adventure in Serie A, Steven Gerrard is the main story in Scotland and, as ever, the likes of FC Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Juventus are bearing down on Real Madrid to steal their European crown.

With just a handful of days until the big kick-off we, the staff of Icons.com, are back again to answer (or at least attempt to answer) the burning questions on everyone’s minds ahead of the season opener at Old Trafford on Friday night. But don’t just take our word for it, send us your predictions for the season ahead on our FacebookTwitter and Instagram pages. You can hardly do much worse.

And, of course, be sure to check out our fantastic range of signed items from Premier League stars past and present – available right now on Icons.com.

Manchester City and Liverpool are strong favourites to contest the Premier League title.

Edward Freedman, Non-Executive Chairman

Premier League winners: MANCHESTER CITY are the strongest team with a great coach. There’s no reason that Liverpool can’t win it but City have strengthened with the addition of Riyad Mahrez from Leicester City. It’ll be close.
2nd – Liverpool 3rd – Manchester United 4th – Tottenham Hotspur
Relegated: Cardiff City, Fulham and Crystal Palace
Golden Boot: SERGIO AGUERO looks fit and on form with lots of support from City’s myriad creative talent.

Serie A winners: Cristiano Ronaldo will change his role by coming deeper and be as good as ever. He has a lot of supporting acts at JUVENTUS, who should take the title easily.
La Liga winners: FC BARCELONA have strengthened while Real Madrid have disappointed during the summer. Madrid have already lost Ronaldo and if Luka Modric goes too that will be a seismic a blow.
Bundesliga winners: BAYERN MUNICH. It’ll be the same old, same old in Germany, which, admittedly is quite boring.

UEFA Champions League winners: The arrival of Arturo Vidal to FC BARCELONA will bring Real Madrid‘s three-year dominance to an end. Barca have an excellent coach who can pull it off.
UEFA Europa League winners: SEVILLA have a decent team and are well experienced in winning this competition. I like them out of the frontrunners.

Signing of the season: The very attacking RIYAD MAHREZ will only grow under Pep Guardiola alongside much higher quality teammates.

My team, FC Barcelona, will… be stronger at the back with a superb goalkeeper in Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Samuel Umtiti growing in stature. They’re now a real team and not just an attacking force.

Mark my words… Zinedine Zidane will be managing Manchester United before Christmas. More of the old school of English managers will be replaced by younger continental coaches.

There’s a new face in Turin. You may already know his name.

Dan Jamieson, CEO

Premier League winners: MANCHESTER CITY haven’t gone backwards so should retain the title under Pep Guardiola. That said, key component Fernandinho must stay fit.
2nd – Liverpool 3rd – Tottenham Hotspur 4th – Arsenal
Relegated: Newcastle United, Cardiff City and Huddersfield Town
Golden Boot: SERGIO AGUERO is the biggest goal threat in the league’s best and most creative team.

Serie A winners: It’s not just the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo that makes JUVENTUS favourites. It’s also the capture of Emre Can and the return of Leonardo Bonucci.
La Liga winners: Lionel Messi and FC BARCELONA win the league title for fun but is another league and cup double really enough?
Bundesliga winners: I’ll go with RB LEIPZIG just for the fun of it.

UEFA Champions League winners: From a tactical standpoint, LIVERPOOL are more suited to winning on the ultimate stage than in domestic competitions.
UEFA Europa League winners: Unai Emery knows how to win this competition and he’ll bring that nous to ARSENAL.

Signing of the season: NABY KEITA is like Roy Keane on steroids mixed with Paul Ince on fast forward.

My team, Liverpool, will… be pipped to the post by a Manchester City team who have more experience. But teams coming to attack allows us to counter with extreme pace so it should be another exciting campaign at Anfield.

Mark my words… Manchester United will implode, leaving Jose Mourinho to pack his bags and leave his hotel just in time for Christmas. England‘s youth players will start to break in to first teams across the country – the future is bright for 2026. Fulham (who have bought very well over the summer, by the way) will stay up with a surprisingly entertaining brand of football.

Jose Mourinho is into his third season at Manchester United…

Ben Soley, Sales and Marketing Manager

Premier League winners: Out of sheer hope as much as expectation, I’ll say LIVERPOOL.
2nd – Manchester City 3rd – Manchester United 4th – Chelsea
Relegated: Huddersfield Town, Fulham and Crystal Palace
Golden Boot: HARRY KANE will finally break his August duct and, despite being exhausted from his FIFA World Cup exploits, the Englishman will win this honour yet again.

Serie A winners: Could you imagine JUVENTUS not winning the title now?
La Liga winners: FC BARCELONA will surely be Spanish champions again.
Bundesliga winners: The obvious choice in Germany is BAYERN MUNICH.

UEFA Champions League winners: Isn’t it FC BARCELONA‘s turn again?
UEFA Europa League winners: With a mere 50 hours left of the transfer window at the time of writing CHELSEA have only to keep their squad together to walk this competition.

Signing of the season: NABY KEITA gives Liverpool a new famous number eight as well as a proper number one.

My team, Liverpool, will… start strong but find themselves in second place after a tricky spell around Christmas time. Still, dare I say it’s our year? In the end they’ll have the league won with two games to spare.

Mark my words… Jose Mourinho will be gone by this time next year while at the same time the world transfer record will be broken once again and Liverpool will have won silverware. I also predict that I will have changed my mind about most of the above within the first two weeks of the season.

Liverpool’s Naby Keita is much-fancied to be a hit in the Premier League.

James Tildesley, Head of New Business

Premier League winners: No surprises here, really. I can’t see anyone beating MANCHESTER CITY. The only thing that I can see upsetting their dominance is an injury to Fernandinho as they don’t have a quality replacement at the time of writing.
2nd – Liverpool 3rd – Arsenal 4th – Tottenham Hotspur
Relegated: Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town and Crystal Palace
Golden Boot: The metronome that is HARRY KANE wins this while Mohamed Salah does well again… but not as well as last season.

Serie A winners: AC Milan will run JUVENTUS close.
La Liga winners: With Real Madrid in transition, FC BARCELONA retain the title.
Bundesliga winners: If anyone gets near BAYERN MUNICH expect the Bavarian side to buy their key players at the end of the season.

UEFA Champions League winners: FC BARCELONA will beat Manchester City in the final.
UEFA Europa League winners: If CHELSEA embrace the playing style of new manager Mauricio Sarri, they’ll be excellent in Europe.

Signing of the season: NABY KEITA is exactly what Liverpool need and he suits their playing style perfectly.

My team, Aston Villa, will… reach the play-offs at best. They need to rebuild after last season and the new owners will help with that. But to galvanise the team enough to put consistent performances across 46 gruelling games and win that league is a step too far.

Mark my words… Burnley will drop like a stone with the addition of European football to their fixture list. They’ll finish 17th. Manchester United will have a horrendous season with Jose Mourinho gone in January. Losing Assistant Manager Rui Faria is massive – it’s going to be a hard watch for United fan this season.

Steven Gerrard is the big story in Scotland as he looks to topple Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic.

Alistair Hunter, Senior Editor

Premier League winners: LIVERPOOL have just about enough to topple Manchester City. Either way this will be an enthralling title race that goes down to the wire. Buckle up, this is going to be a classic.
2nd – Manchester City 3rd – Tottenham Hotspur 4th – Chelsea
Relegated: Cardiff City, Bournemouth and a Rafa-less Newcastle United
Golden Boot: Another season among Europe’s top scorers cements HARRY KANE‘s place among the Premier League greats.

Serie A winners: Carlo Ancelotti pulls off the mother of all upsets in bringing the Scudetto back to NAPOLI.
La Liga winners: Arturo Vidal gives FC BARCELONA much-needed backbone. La Blaugrana won’t be stopped in Spain – unless they find themselves twelve yards from goal, of course.
Bundesliga winners: John Williams’ Imperial March plays as BAYERN MUNICH sweep their rivals aside once again.

UEFA Champions League winners: Those of us who had at least one eye open during the FIFA World Cup will have seen just how fearless and seemingly unstoppable Kylian Mbappe is right now. Under the astute guidance of Thomas Tuchel, this is the year that PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN finally get it right.
UEFA Europa League winners: Rangers storm to success in Baku… only joking. Not even Stevie G can pull off a miracle of that magnitude. I’ll play it safe and go with perennial UEL winners SEVILLA.

Signing of the season: Tottenham’s capture of… wait… what? Oh. Oh my. Okay, in that case, I’ll go with ALISSON. The keeper will prove his distribution is as assured as his brilliant shot-stopping.

My team, Cambridge United, will… finish so aggressively mid-table that they may even break the league in two. My other team, Rangers, will close the gap on Celtic, win at least one Old Firm derby and snag the Bhoys’ Treble Treble by claiming one of the cups. All aboard the Steven Gerrard bandwagon – the Gers are on their way back.

Mark my words… the pressure on Premier League officials to implement VAR will prove all too much after a campaign riddled with refereeing mishaps. Ryan Sessegnon will be snapped up by a top six side in January amid fresh calls for his inclusion in Gareth Southgate’s England squad but the most exciting home-grown prospect will break through down the road at Chelsea. Callum Hudson-Odoi, remember the name.

Lionel Messi’s FC Barcelona are expected to retain the Spanish title.

Brett Sinclair, Warehouse Manager

Premier League winners: MANCHESTER CITY‘s very talented squad will cruise to the title if they stay fit.
2nd – Tottenham Hotspur 3rd – Liverpool 4th – Chelsea
Relegated: Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town and Fulham
Golden Boot: This is tough one with some of the world’s best footballers playing in the league this season but I hope PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG’s pace gets the service it deserves.

Serie A winners: I expect great things from JUVENTUS after the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo. Juve will be closely followed by Napoli.
La Liga winners: FC BARCELONA take the title with Real Madrid not too far behind.
Bundesliga winners: No-one will come close to BAYERN MUNICH as they glide to victory.

UEFA Champions League winners: JUVENTUS will push through. For their sake, I hope the officials are more switched on this season.
UEFA Europa League winners: CHELSEA will focus on winning this.

Signing of the season: FELIPE ANDERSON will do great things for West Ham United.

My team, Leicester City, will… finish fifth this season. There’s not much else they can do. It would be great to see a repeat of their title-winning exploits in 2015-16 but it’s best to be realistic.

Mark my words… Arsenal will not lift a trophy this season or finish in the top five. Sorry to all the Gunners out there.

Paul Pogba is now a world champion – can he shine at Old Trafford?

Daryl Angel, Head of Customer Support

Premier League winners: MANCHESTER UNITED
2nd – Liverpool 3rd – Manchester City 4th – Arsenal
Relegated: Southampton, Cardiff City and Brighton and Hove Albion
Golden Boot: ROMELU LUKAKU shares the honour with HARRY KANE.

Serie A winners: I would love to see one of the Milan sides back on top but I don’t think it’s possible after CR7‘s move to JUVENTUS.
La Liga winners: FC BARCELONA, no doubt about this.
Bundesliga winners: I would love to see BAYERN MUNICH toppled but I don’t think anyone has the squad to do so.

UEFA Champions League winners: MANCHESTER UNITED will face JUVENTUS in the final with Paul Pogba scoring the winner… but for whom I don’t know yet.
UEFA Europa League winners: Having been knocked out of the UEFA Champions League at the group stages, PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN treat the UEFA Europa League as the most important trophy of the season.

Signing of the season: 35-year-old Lee Grant at Manchester United… or Jack Wilshere for West Ham United. JEAN MICHAEL SERI to Fulham could also be one of the coups of the summer.

My team, Manchester United, will… either win the league or crash and burn ten games into the season and sack Jose Mourinho before Christmas. I hope Mourinho’s third season curse is about to change.

Mark my words… everybody will see that £70million for Allison is ridiculous and Liverpool fans will be singing for the return of Loris Karius by Christmas. Rangers will finally challenge Celtic in the SPL. Paul Pogba will either become Manchester United club captain or be gone by this time next year.


So, that’s what we think will go down during this season’s campaign. But what do you think? Send us your predictions by getting in touch via our FacebookTwitter and Instagram pages!

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Football’s back! Six unmissable storylines to look out for in 2017-18

At last, it’s back! The real football has returned! From now until late May of next year, it’s non-stop, full-on, unadulterated football and we at Icons.com could not be more excited.

After all, this season has the potential to be bigger, better and more exciting than ever. And not just in England. Let’s not forget the thrills that await around the continent; in Spain, Germany, Italy and France, where the best footballers on the planet do battle in front of the biggest crowds for the right to claim the world’s most coveted prizes.

In fact, with so much going on around the world on the opening weekend of the season, you could be forgiven for not knowing where to start or what to look out for. Well, it’s lucky we’re here then, isn’t it? Here are six things you need to keep an eye on this season.

 

1. Bem-vindo Neymar Jr

So, it actually happened. With Neymar Jr’s switch from FC Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain for €222million, world football’s transfer record has been broken by a factor of two. Our office stopped in its tracks to watch – perhaps a little out of disbelief – as the mercurial Brazilian forward was presented in front of the world’s media last week. With a glitzy unveiling in front of a sell-out crowd days later, the Parc de Princes has had more than a little Hollywood about it over the past month.

This season the 25-year-old will surely set his sights not only on a sweep of the domestic titles on offer at his new club but also a shot at one or both of the two individual honours that would certify his superstar status: the Ballon D’or and FIFA’s The Best Award. Will the football gods also write a mouthwatering script that reunites him with Barça in the UEFA Champions League? It may be time to start warming those balls…

 

2. The main event

Speaking of the UEFA Champions League, this season’s race for club football’s most sought-after prize promises to be as thrilling as ever. Real Madrid made history at the end of last season as they became the first team to successfully defend their title but Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo aren’t quite content with just two-in-a-row. The Spanish champions have won the famous tournament in three of the last four years and they’ve developed a taste for success.

Meanwhile, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United are back, adding three previous winners and two of the competition’s most storied teams to the mix. Jurgen Klopp and Jose Mourinho have a great knack of inspiring magic on European nights but can the trophy really return to the North West as early as this season?

Not if the rest of Europe has something to say about it. A certain aforementioned Brazilian seems dead-set on making his mark at PSG but to get to Kiev they may have to return to the scene of last season’s most remarkable tie: Camp Nou. All this while Carlo Ancelotti plots Bayern Munich’s return to the European throne and Gianluigi Buffon prays for one last shot at the trophy that has always eluded him.

As an official UEFA licensee, Icons.com is the proud home of official UEFA Champions League signed memorabilia.

 

3. A six-horse race

The Premier League is getting stronger in competitive terms, there’s no doubt about that. Almost all of the world’s best managers are taking charge of talented, hungry and exciting teams in England’s topflight and that means the title could go almost anywhere.

In Manchester, Pep Guardiola is building an attack-minded team at City with the signing of Monaco’s Bernardo Silva to add to Sergio Aguero’s goals, while United have a new hitman in the form of Romelu Lukaku. Liverpool are still a side of pure pace up front and should be an entertaining watch considering their attacking prowess.

Meanwhile, in London, Antonio Conte has one of the world’s most exciting attacking midfielders in Eden Hazard and Mauricio Pochettino will just be happy that both Harry Kane and Dele Alli (see below) have gone the summer without their heads being turned. Arch-rivals Arsenal have satisfied the wishes of their fans with the purchase of Alexandre Lacazette and the retention of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil (at the time of writing, anyway). So, who exactly is supposed to be the frontrunner here?

Find out who we fancy to come out on top in our special 2017-18 season predictions blog.

 

4. Dele’s big year

The breakout season is history, the sophomore slump was nowhere to be seen. Now the most exciting young talent at both Tottenham Hotspur and England can stretch his legs and really show us what he’s got. Gunning for a hat-trick of PFA Young Player of the Year awards – and perhaps the main gong too – Dele Alli faces a season of much promise.

Playing in front of potentially 90,000 fans at Spurs’ temporary home of Wembley Stadium won’t faze the England regular, nor will the prospect of a second season in the UEFA Champions League group stages. In fact, knowing the boy-wonder personally from our signing sessions, we’re not sure exactly what could faze him, if anything. Here is a confident 21-year-old who has the world at his feet. Which reminds us, isn’t there some sort of big international tournament coming soon?

We are immensely proud to have an official contract with Tottenham and England sensation Dele Alli. For exclusive signed products, visit Icons.com today.

 

5. All the world’s a stage

Ah, yes, the FIFA World Cup. Next summer sees the return of the biggest football tournament on the planet and with potentially one last chance at winning that most coveted trophy, the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will be desperate to deliver glory to their respective countries. Neymar Jr, Philippe Coutinho, Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann and Dele Alli will be among the young but established stars hoping to capture the world’s attention and with the talent on offer it promises to be a tournament full of drama.

Whisper it but England look to be stronger than in recent years with Wayne Rooney surely determined to bow out of international football on a high alongside a stellar mix of young and experienced players mostly plying their trade in the Premier League.

Capture the spirit and excitement of the FIFA World Cup with officially-licensed FIFA World Cup signed memorabilia, exclusive to Icons.com.

 

6. La Liga’s on a knife-edge

Madridistas could be forgiven for still being a little hungover when their domestic season starts with a Supercopa Clasico on Sunday evening. Last season, Real won their first league title since 2012 and became the first team in history to retain the UEFA Champions League. Their supremacy is currently unquestioned but this season their hated rivals will want revenge.

Lionel Messi’s ultra dramatic, last-gasp winner in the sides’ pulsating encounter at the Bernabeu merely fanned the flames that could well spark all-out war this term. Barça haven’t experienced for years the upheaval they’ve suffered over the past few months with Neymar Jr gone and now a new man at the helm. Who knows how Ernesto Valverde plans to stop the Zidane juggernaut?

 

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CLOSED | WIN a Cristiano Ronaldo Signed Nike Boot with FOOTY.COM

Video via FOOTY.COM on Facebook

After a stellar 2016 in which he not only won the UEFA Champions League for a third time but also inspired a first ever major trophy as the captain of his country AND bagged a fourth Ballon d’Or, Cristiano Ronaldo‘s standing as the best player in world football became less of a debate and more of a cold, hard fact.

We at Icons.com love us some CR7. So much so, in fact, that we’ve been working closely with the global phenomenon for over a decade. A Sporting Lisbon legend, a Manchester United hero, a Real Madrid superstar – however you choose to view his career, Ronaldo remains one of our most popular icons.

That’s why we’ve teamed up with our friends at FOOTY.COM to offer the ultimate giveaway for Cristiano fans.

04-cristiano-certificate

That’s right, this week we’re offering you the chance to win a Cristiano Ronaldo signed Nike Mercurial Victory VI boot.

Throwing your hat in the ring for this spectacular prize couldn’t be easier. Just head over to FOOTY.COM, pop in your name and email address and you’re in. The competition ends on Sunday March 12th at midnight (GMT) so enter now before it’s too late!

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Memorabilia signed by Cristiano Ronaldo



Anatomy of An Icons Signing: Behind The Scenes With FOOTY.com

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Earlier this year we invited our friends from the football price comparison site FOOTY.com to come with us to a signing with one of the world’s best footballers. It just so happened that player was Barcelona‘s Argentinean superstar and global phenomenon Lionel Messi. From the FOOTY.com blog, here’s what Michael Lowdon thought of one our sessions with the world’s best…

As I drove down the A1 in torrential rain to FOOTY.com HQ, another wet day in the North East lay ahead. Or so I thought. By 10pm I was in Barcelona, enjoying a warm night, as the atmosphere of the UEFA Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid spilled out of the Nou Camp and onto the city’s streets. Our friends over at Icons.com had given us an invite to join them in the Catalan capital to get an insight into the workings of a player signing session. The player in question: Mr Lionel Messi.

Home of one of the best club sides in the history of the game, with arguably the greatest player to have kicked a football, the journey to the airport required regular pinching.

Being a frequent visitor to the Icons.com website, I was intrigued to see what goes on behind the scenes at a signing. After meeting Ali and Ben at Heathrow, the first task was to help with checking in of a number of packed suitcases, all of which were full to the brink with Messi memorabilia to be signed. From his latest adidas boot collection to a range of Barcelona and Argentina shirtsUEFA Champions League balls and glossy photo prints, the Icons team took a wide range of products ready for the Argentine’s penwork.

Once we had landed in Barcelona, the breathless Catalan commentary of the night’s match blared through the taxi’s radio, as we used our best broken Spanish to get the driver on our side. The hotel Icons put us up in was a stone’s throw away from the Camp Nou, meaning towards the end of journey the surrounding streets were filled with endless queues of mopeds, carrying relieved and joyous Cules late into the night. After more trolley pushing and the hotel bellboy’s help, we retired to the hotel bar, filled with the debate between fans. A quick night cap and a briefing for the next day’s signing rounded off a day which had started with a quiet, rainy morning in the office.

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FOOTY.com check out our signing photos – a key for authenticity

With signing day upon us, there was no time for a lie in and we were locked away in the hotel’s store room, preparing the cases and deciding what needed to be taken as a priority. It was the “less glamourous side of the signings” I was told, but as a Messi disciple and football merch geek I was like a pig in muck! Selections of football shirts and boots were asking to be jumped into and drooled over. Composed and professional, I managed to hide my excitement, just. As the deadline loomed, we met player liaison officer Jesus, Icons Founder Edward and CEO Dan outside of the Barcelona training ground and dissected Atleti’s defensive resilience, which would help them later progress to the semi final. Bumping into Pep’s superstar agent brother Pere Guardiola and a handful of other important figures, the team were escorted into the training centre to get the session underway.

Messi-Rooney

Messi is delighted to receive a shirt signed by fellow Icon Wayne Rooney

Having been signed to Icons for over a decade, making it one of his longest running commercial relationships, Messi knows what to expect when he’s faced with another Icons memorabilia signing session and he quickly got about his business. Icons exclusively produce the official Messi signed range as part of their license with the Argentine superstar. He breaks from the rhythm of signing to get his photo lifting a signed Wayne Rooney shirt that he’s received from the England captain, smiling with that grin we’ve come to recognise after more than 500 career goals.

The session draws to a close with Messi needed elsewhere – those five Ballon d’Ors won’t polish themselves you know. With yet another successful session in the bag, we retreat back to the hotel bar as the team celebrate. Messi is just one of a glittering list of current players which sign for Icons, including Neymar Jr, Luis Suarez, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Sergio Aguero and many more. Not a bad forward line to have on your books! As the dust settles from the Messi signing, we relax with a meal in the shadow of La Sagrada Familia, unwinding as each Wolfsburg goal against Real Madrid raises a roar from the locals. We could get used to this!

Icons and FOOTY.com join the fans outside the Barcelona training ground

Icons and FOOTY.com join the fans outside the Barcelona training ground

It’s been a whirlwind 48 hours for FOOTY.com, but for Icons it’s simply another day at the office. They’ll do it all again before long, as they met Eric Cantona in Lisbon and Gareth Bale in Madrid before April comes to end. The team also reveal which players are on their radar to sign next, what affects their choice and whether the enigmatic Ronaldinho is within their grasp.

From logistically planned trolley runs to preparing products for smoother signings, it’s all in a day’s work, in the crazy job that is chasing footballers around the world. As FOOTY.com has come to realise, there’s a story behind every signing. We can’t thank Icons enough for inviting us along to their private signing session with the most in demand footballer on the planet. The care and effort they put into organising every aspect of the signing, from their planning, unrivalled authenticity they strive for and their relationships with players is something to be inspired by.

FOOTY.COM is the UK’s leading price comparison when it comes to everything football. We specialise in searching the web to bring you the best prices and biggest savings on products from boots to balls and everything in between. Shop with FOOTY.COM to pay less and play more!

Shop from our full range of official Lionel Messi signed items here.

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Icons Weekend Football Preview: Cup Weekend In England; Messi and Ronaldo Both Travel

The Emirates FA Cup

It’s almost the weekend! And that means, as always, there’s a full card of top class football to look forward to. Football that involves our Icons doing what they do best – being iconic. So who’s playing where and when? With a run-down of what our friends are up to this weekend, it’s the Icons Weekend Football Preview

Don’t forget to let us know who you’ll be supporting by getting in touch with our social media team. Find them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and let them know how your favourite Icon has gotten on over the course of the weekend. Let’s get started!

 

Arsenal vs Hull City

Arsenal's French striker Olivier Giroud runs with the trophy after winning the English FA Cup final match against Hull City at Wembly Stadium in London on May 17, 2014. Aaron Ramsey scored an extra-time winner as Arsenal ended their nine-year trophy drought by coming from two goals down to beat Hull City 3-2 in a gripping FA Cup final. AFP PHOTO/GLYN KIRK == NOT FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING USE / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE == (Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

For Arsenal fans, this fixture will have a very familiar ring to it. The Gunners have now faced Hull City in the FA Cup in each of the last three seasons, notably beating the Tigers in the 2014 Wembley final to capture their first trophy in nine seasons. And after a successful defence of their crown last season, Arsene Wenger’s side have not been beaten in the Cup in three years. The French gaffer will oversee his 100th FA Cup match as Arsenal manager on Saturday afternoon and may look to fellow countryman Olivier Giroud to break down what is expected to be a stubborn Hull back-line.

Details: FA Cup, Emirates Stadium, Saturday 12:45pm, BT Sport 2 HD


Las Palmas vs Barcelona

Barcelona are in irresistible and record-breaking form right now, so any chance to watch them in action is one not to be missed. It’s a shame, then, that their Saturday afternoon clash at Las Palmas will not be on British television, as Lionel Messi, Neymar Jr, Luis Suarez and Andres Iniesta and company look to extend their historic unbeaten run to 32 in all competitions. Messi became the first player in La Liga history to reach 300 league goals during their midweek win over Sporting Gijion – who’ll bet against him adding to that tally tomorrow?

Details: La Liga, Estadio Gran Canaria, Saturday 3pm


Bournemouth vs Everton

Everton v Aston Villa - Premier League

With the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley in the side, Everton have every right to believe they have the potential to win a Cup competition. But inconsistent form has dogged their season and now the FA Cup looks to be their last chance at salvaging a memorable campaign. A trip to the south coast to face Bournemouth, in front of the BBC camera crews, may not be the ideal environment for Roberto Martinez’s team but if Lukaku and Barkley can link up well, the Cherries will have serious issues, as on their day those two are nearly unstoppable.

Details: FA Cup, Vitality Stadium, Saturday 5:15pm, BBC One HD


Malaga vs Real Madrid

AS Roma v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg

Buoyed by a important victory over AS Roma in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday night, Zinedine Zidane‘s Real Madrid travel to Malaga for a tricky La Liga clash. Cristiano Ronaldo‘s exceptional goal at the Stadio Olimpico showcased everything that’s mesmerising about his game. The speed, power and directness of his touchline sprint and rifled finish proved to be too much to handle for another of Europe’s top teams. But Ronaldo, James Rodriguez and company will need to be on their toes for this trip, as three points will be crucial in their pursuit of the title.

Details: La Liga, La Rosaleda, Sunday 3pm Sky Sports 3 HD


Chelsea vs Manchester City

Manchester City v Chelsea - Premier League

The beauty of the FA Cup is that it can pit the Shrewsburys of the world against the Manchester Uniteds (see below) but the Cup is also good for a heavyweight contest or two. And that’s certainly the case here, as Sergio Aguero‘s Manchester City travel to Stamford Bridge to face a Chelsea side who suffered their first defeat since Guus Hiddink took charge of the Blues. The hosts may see this competition as their last truly viable chance at silverware this term, with progress in the UEFA Champions League looking shaky after their loss to Paris Saint-Germain.

Details: FA Cup, Stamford Bridge, Sunday 4pm, BBC One HD


Shrewsbury Town vs Manchester United

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Losing star striker Wayne Rooney earlier this week was a big blow to Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United and a midweek defeat in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League tie with FC Midtjylland was far from ideal but the Red Devils have extensive experience of seeing off lower league opposition in the FA Cup – especially of late. Shrewsbury are the latest test for the Old Trafford side after Juan Mata‘s goal helped see off Derby County, who went the way of Sheffield United, Preston North End, Cambridge United and Yeovil Town. Can United add to that list with a moral-boosting victory on Monday night?

Details: FA Cup, New Meadow, Monday 7:45pm, BBC One HD


Who will you be watching this weekend? Let us know!

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Memorabilia signed by Messi



Why We Love Messi’s 300 La Liga Goals

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With the opening goal of FC Barcelona‘s 3-1 victory over Sporting Gijon on Wednesday evening, Lionel Messi became the first player in the history of La Liga to reach 300 league goals. So, to celebrate Messi’s landmark achievement, the staff of icons.com have picked their favourite of Messi’s now 301 goals in the Spanish topflight.

But, with over 300 efforts to choose from, it’s inevitable that we would leave out a number of amazing goals. So, let us know if we’ve left out your favourite goal by getting in touch on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. And don’t forget, we have a wide range of official Lionel Messi signed memorabilia available to buy on icons.com right now. So check it out and grab yourself a wonderful item from one of the greatest players in football history.


Goal Number 1 (vs Albacete, May 1st, 2005)

This is where it all began. Lionel Messi‘s very first goal for Barcelona was a classic. Sent clear by Ronaldinho, a 17-year-old Leo steadies himself, sizes up the onrushing goalkeeper and cooly lobs it into the back of the net to get off the mark in La Liga. Everything is perfect here, from Ronaldinho’s awesome dinked pass to the fact it seals the points for Barca in the dying seconds of a typical Camp Nou victory. Simply historic. – Alistair Hunter


Goal Number 78 (vs Real Zaragoza, March 21st, 2010)

Similar to his Copa del Rey goal against Getafe, this solo effort is just incredible. It’s a goal that reminded me of Diego Maradona’s against England because Messi has the ball for so long and I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much skill and control in an individual effort. It’s also great because he shows tremendous strength to win the ball in the first place and then the quickness in his feet to take past that first opponent is magical. Superb stuff. – Edward Freedman


Goal Number 158 (vs Getafe, April 10th, 2012)

Has there ever been a midfielder-striker partnership as good as Andres Iniesta and Lionel MessiI think this goal, with the quality of the one-two between Andres and Leo, shows off what was and still is an incredible duo. The neat interplay between the two is amazing to watch, but then there’s the power of Messi’s finish. This is a goal of real style and class. – Ben Soley


Goal Number 276 (vs Almeria, April 8th, 2015)

If you rush to him, Messi dribbles past you. If you stay put, the Argentine magician does this. Defensively, there is not much more Almeria could do. But Messi makes top level footballers look like amateurs on a weekly basis. The nonchalance with which he impossibly bends the ball around well-placed defenders is something only one player on Earth could do. With a phenomenon like Messi you can’t really win. That’s why Messi is Messi and the rest just trail in his wake. – Jack O’Neill


Which of Messi’s La Liga goals is your favourite? Let us know by checking out this incredible video of all of his 301 La Liga goals.

Shop from our full range of official Lionel Messi signed items here.

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Memorabilia signed by Messi



CLOSED | WIN a Nike boot signed by Cristiano Ronaldo Or Neymar Jr!

Signed-Boot-Giveaway

It’s competition time! To celebrate the birthdays of global football superstars Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar Jr on Friday February 5th, Icons are giving you the chance to win a signed boot from one of these two awesome players.

All you need to do to be in with a chance of winning this incredible prize is to head over to our Facebook page and give us a like or follow us on Twitter and keep an eye out for our posts and tweets relating to the competition. You’ll need to like or retweet one of those related posts as well as like or follow us on Facebook or Twitter to be in the draw for a boot. When the draw closes on Friday February 12th at 12pm GMT, we’ll be picking one lucky winner from both Facebook and Twitter.

Good luck!

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Terms & Conditions
1) The promoter of this competition is Icons Shop Ltd, whose registered office is at Highgate Business Centre, 33 Greenwood Place, London, NW5 1LB, UK. 2) Employees of Icons Shop Ltd, their family members or anyone else connected in any way with the competition or helping to set up the competition shall not be permitted to enter the competition. 3) There is no entry fee and no purchase necessary to enter this competition. 4) Closing date for entry will be Friday February 12th at 12pm GMT. After this date no further entries to the competition will be permitted. 5) No responsibility can be accepted for entries not received after the closing date for whatever reason. 6) The promoter reserves the right to cancel or amend the competition and these terms and conditions without notice. Any changes to the competition will be notified to entrants as soon as possible by the promoter. 7) The promoter is not responsible for inaccurate prize details supplied to any entrant by any third party connected with this competition. 8) No cash alternative to the prizes will be offered. The prizes are not transferable. Prizes are subject to availability and we reserve the right to substitute any prize with another of equivalent value without giving notice. 9) Winners will be chosen at random from all entries received and verified by Icons Shop Ltd and or its agents. 10) Winners will receive one signed boot from a player of their choice between Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar Jr. 11) Entry to this competition constitutes either one of the following; the entrant must “like” the official Facebook page of the promoter and “like” one or more “post” relating to the competition on Facebook or; “follow” the official Twitter page of the promoter and “retweet” one or more “tweet” relating to the competition on Twitter. 12) The winner will be notified via the social media channel from which they entered the competition within 28 days of the closing date. If the winner cannot be contacted or does not claim the prize within three days of notification, we reserve the right to withdraw the prize from the winner and pick a replacement winner. 13) The promoter will notify the winner of how the prize can be collected. 14) The promoter’s decision in respect of all matters to do with the competition will be final and no correspondence will be entered into. 15) By entering this competition, an entrant is indicating his/her agreement to be bound by these terms and conditions. 16) The competition and these terms and conditions will be governed by English law and any disputes will be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England. 17) The winner agrees to the use of his/her name and image in any publicity material. Any personal data relating to the winner or any other entrants will be used solely in accordance with current UK data protection legislation and will not be disclosed to a third party without the entrant’s prior consent. 18) Entry into the competition will be deemed as acceptance of these terms and conditions. 19) This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook, Twitter or any other Social Network.

Memorabilia signed by Neymar



Icons Launch Exclusive ‘Signed & Match Worn’ Section

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Icons work with the world’s best players and today we are proud to launch our new and exclusive signed and match worn section. These are authentic, unique, game-used items direct from some of the greatest players on the planet. But how do you know these shirts are the real deal? 

Icons has and always will be dedicated to the highest standards of authenticity and our brand new signed and match worn range is no different. There are just a few simple questions you have to ask yourself as a customer to put your mind at rest when buying these items.

 

Does the supplier have long-standing and official relationships with the players?

Just a glance at the Icons homepage will tell you we have been working with the world’s best for over a decade and a half. We have official contracts with Lionel Messi and Gareth Bale and have been working with Cristiano Ronaldo for over ten years now. No one else in the world can claim such partnerships, with Icons a step ahead at every turn. We also have established relationships with the likes of Neymar Jr, Luis Suarez and Andres Iniesta and many more.

Does the supplier have photos of the player with the match worn shirt?

Icons is proud to provide clear photos of the player with the exact shirt they played in and have signed. This sort of endorsement is what elevates Icons above the rest. Our signed and match worn shirts are also dated, where possible. These dates were hand-written by the players themselves as a way to officially stamp said shirt as match worn from that specific match on that specific date.

Luis-Suarez-(Liverpool)

Do the shirts have any unique identifiers?

All our match worn shirts have unique identifiers establishing them as the products worn in the matches we say they are. Our Barcelona match worn shirts have an authentic tag on the hem of the shirt, which contains a serial number with nine digits, the year of the season and the iconic Nike tick. Our Luis Suarez Liverpool shirt bears the official Hillsborough 25th Anniversary crest that was specifically created for that game and has not been worn since. And our Andres Iniesta Spain shirt bears text under the badge, confirming the match opponents, date and location for example.

What about Certificates of Authenticity?

Anyone with a word processor can create a COA. All our items come with a Certificate of Authenticity, which include the details of the signing session and a photo of the player signing the product line at the signing session, where available. We introduced numbered, sequential Icons holograms to add to the COA security. They are uniquely printed on two sided black card so as to be unphotocopiable too. Details of our company are registered with Companies House and our company number is 06791294 – this is always displayed on the COAs. We are easily traceable and subject to UK law. So, if you can’t find a company’s details on its website then proceed with caution and remember you will have no claims in the courts. Our CEO personally signs every COA and we never reproduce signatures, even for this small task.

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Do they have licenses with official bodies?

Icons were awarded the world’s first ever signed football memorabilia licence by FIFA in 2010 so we could produce our range of iconic signed World Cup products. We went on to create a range for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil and have been awarded the rights for the forthcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia. In July 2012, Icons was awarded the first ever official licence for the UEFA Champions League and have renewed for 2015-18. Our rights now also include the UEFA Europa League so together our ranges incorporate the entire history of elite European club competition. We were also given the first ever UEFA European Championships memorabilia licence in 2015. As such, we’ve just launched our official UEFA EURO 2016 France range. If the governing bodies of world and European football deal with Icons, why would you buy signed items from anywhere else? Icons are looking to bring you match worn shirts from these tournaments so as to be able to combine our licences with these coveted products. Sign up to the Icons newsletter to find out first about this.

 

So remember when buying match worn items, does it have:

  • A COA and hologram with it?
  • A photo of the player with the item?
  • A signature from the player in question?
  • Where possible a date tying it to the specific game?
  • Identifiable patches or manufacturers details marking it as a match issue shirt?

 

Icons Shop Ltd is the world’s leading football memorabilia company and Icons.com the most trusted brand in the game. Authenticity is everything to us, as it is everything to our customers. So check out our exclusive and exciting match worn range featuring genuine shirts worn by the likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Andres Iniesta and Gareth Bale.

 

For our full range of match worn products, check out icons.com now!

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