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FC Barcelona News: 31 August 2012; Iniesta Wins UEFA Best Player in Europe Award, Thiago Gets Medical Clearance

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Iniesta collects top gong | Sky Sports
Andres Iniesta has been voted the 2011/12 winner of the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award. The Barcelona midfielder, who inspired Spain to retain their crown at Euro 2012, won the vote by 53 sports journalists representing each of UEFA's member nations.

Iniesta deserved to beat Messi & Ronaldo to European prize - but don't expect him to win the Ballon d'Or -
Barcelona's mild-mannered midfielder has his fair share of admirers within the game, but he had been the third favourite to claim this award. As his name was called out, he looked as shocked as everyone else. And in accepting it, he was gracious, grateful and gratified - all at the same time.

Alves doubtful for Sunday; Thiago gets medical all-clear | FC Barcelona
On the other hand, the good news of the day is that Thiago Alcántara was given the medical all-clear to return to competitive play. Three months after his tibia injury, which kept him from the London Olympic Games, the Club’s Medical Services declared the player fit to play with the first team.

Meet the Champions League opponents | FC Barcelona
Benfica almost put Chelsea out in the quarter finals last season. Unai Emery is now in charge at Spartak, but he has never beaten Barça. Celtic are practically unstoppable in Scotland following the collapse of Rangers and are fully focused on Europe.

Puyol on the Champions League draw: "We are favourites" | FC Barcelona
Carles Puyol is pleased with the results of this afternoon’s Champions League draw, which paired FC Barcelona up with Benfica, Spartak Moscow and Celtic FC. "We’re favourites, we can be happy with the draw," said Puyol optimistically, but he also warned that "it won’t be easy. You pay dearly for any errors or overconfidence in the Champions League, we respect all of our rivals."

Afellay loaned for one season to Schalke 04 | FC Barcelona
FC Barcelona and Schalke 04 have reached an agreement for the loan of Ibrahim Afellay to the German club until June 30, 2013. Ibrahim Afellay, 26 years of age, came to FC Barcelona on December 24, 2010 from PSV Eindhoven during the winter transfer window. He played 27 games, 16 in La Liga, 6 in the Copa del Rey and 5 in the Champions League.

Error-free start for Alex Song | FC Barcelona
He made 18 passes, and every single one was good. That was as impeccable a start from Alex Song as any FCB fan could have wished for. It was also him who supplied the ball to Leo Messi for the chance that would have won the Spanish Supercup in the final seconds of injury time.

Zubizarreta: "This group breathes football" | FC Barcelona
After this afternoon’s Champions League group stage draw, Andoni Zubizarreta said that Tito Vilanova’s men were place in a "group that breathes football; different styles of play will be displayed that appeal to everyone."

QPR sign Granero from Real Madrid - Yahoo! Eurosport UK
In a statement released by the Barclays Premier League club, R's boss Mark Hughes said: "He is a great player, first and foremost. You don't play at a club like Real Madrid if you're not." Hughes added: "He has been there from the age of nine, so this has been a huge decision for him. He is very well regarded there and for him to leave a club of that stature to come to us shows the belief he has in what we are trying to do.

All right on the night for Atlético Madrid's Chelsea-owned keeper |
London calling. But this time Thibaut Courtois is not picking up. Never mind the £9m transfer, the text-message exchanges with Petr Cech, the friendship with Eden Hazard, the calls and the visits, never mind the trips back to Cobham, or even the five-year contract at Stamford Bridge – Courtois is the Chelsea goalkeeper who wants Chelsea to lose. For now.

Malaga sign Argentine striker Saviola - Yahoo! Eurosport UK
The 30-year-old negotiated a release from his contract with Benfica and passed a medical at the Costa del Sol club. Saviola won 40 international caps with Argentina, scoring 11 goals, and after leaving River Plate for Barcelona went on to play with AS Monaco, Sevilla and Real before moving to Portugal.

Maresca leaves Malaga for Sampdoria - Yahoo! Eurosport UK
Former Italy U21 international Maresca, 32, spent just one season at the Liga club, who are enduring sudden financial difficulties after their owners withdrew funding despite their qualification for the Champions League. The Serie A club, promoted last season following a shock relegation in 2011, announced the deal on their website.

Stuani comes to Espanyol | LFP
Cristhian Stuani is the seventh reinforcement for Espanyol this season. The Uruguayan forward has conceded that once he heard of the clubs´s offer he could look at no other: "Once I heard of the club´s interest I had no doubt, I said I wanted to go to Espanyol, I want to play for them. I think that it will be a very important step in my career".

Betis snap up Lopez | Sky Sports
Real Betis have confirmed the signing of former Villarreal full-back Angel Lopez on a free transfer. The 31-year-old left the Yellow Submarine following their relegation in the summer but has secured another deal in the top flight. He passed his medical with the Seville club earlier on Thursday and subsequently posted a picture on Twitter of himself signing his contract.

Mohammed Abu strengthens Rayo | LFP
Mohammed Abu has been unveiled as a new player at Rayo Vallecano for the la Liga BBVA season and is on loan from Manchester City. The Ghanaian player is 21 and is happy with the move: "In the Spanish and English leagues is where any footballer would like to play. Since I was little I have followed them and I am delighted to come to Rayo.