“We are happy with the players we have in the squad right now. But if an option becomes available we will address it, and if not, we are happy with what we have. We are working to have the best squad possible, that the manager has the best possible options available to compete.” Andoni Zubizarreta then made a quick comment on Ibrahim Afellay’s final loan spell that will see him reach the end of his FC Barcelona contract. “I want to thank him for all his done to help us during this time and wish him the best.” Lastly, a comment on Dani Alves. “I have never spoken to Alves about him leaving nor have we received any offers for him. He is a Barça squad member.”
Sky Sports Spanish football expert Guillem Balague reported on how the squad is doing at the St. George’s Park facilities where coach Luis Enrique now operates from for the next few days. With most of the squad back, only World Cup finalists Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano along with the injured Neymar and the suspended Luis Suárez are missing from Lucho’s training sessions, which Guillem assures are as intense as they can get.
“Luis Enrique is a fanatic of physical training,” Guillem told Sky Sports News. “Barcelona have come from two years where the training has been more relaxed and less intense, which showed in the way they were playing. But Enrique wants discipline, hard work, and for guys to recover pressure high and be fit.” The famous journalist also mentioned that the players “are saying privately that it’s hard to finish the sessions. So far what he has been doing back in Barcelona is difficult training sessions. Here [at St George’s Park] you’re going to get one in the morning and one in the afternoon and so on until Saturday.” More from Balague after the jump.
FC Barcelona could be very close to signing their first centre-back since 2010 as rumors intensify around Valencia CF defender Jérémy Mathieu (30). The Frenchman was the only member of the Valencia squad who did not participate in a friendly against German club SpVgg Bayreuth on Tuesday, despite no reports of injury – usually a sign that a transfer is imminent. More after the jump.
Former FC Barcelona center back and beloved figure for all culés, Éric Abidal, did a dramatic turn around this past week. On Thursday, July 3, he announced his renewal with AS Monaco, where he had spent the 2013/14 season as the club’s captain. Two days later, on Saturday, July 5, it was announced that Abidal had signed a contract with Greek league champions Olympiacos FC. Read on to see what could have happened in those few days to change Abidal’s mind.
Not long before Germany finished Germanying France, reports from both sides of the divide (England and Spain) are claiming a deal has been made with Liverpool FC for the transfer of one Luis Suárez. Spanish football insiders Guillem Balague and Graham Hunter are amongst those reporting, with the latter stating that the amount is 79.2 million euros (which agrees quite closely to other sources) and he would sign a five year deal. Indications are that the only area of disagreement remaining is the structure of paying the fee. There is a general consensus that the deal should be made official before the weekend is up.
Well Josep Maria Bartomeu said there would be “profound” changes. He wasn’t lying.
FC Barcelona’s president Josep Maria Bartomeu spoke in a press conference on Wednesday concerning the summer changes the first team will face. After a roller-coaster of a season, the club president vowed that he will bring this club back to its glory days starting with a reaffirmation of Lionel Messi’s position at the club stating, “(Messi) will lead the important renovation.” He also added, “A few days ago we adapted his contract and he is very happy here. Messi is not transferable.” Check out what Bartomeu had to say in regards to the players coming in and the players leaving the club, right after the jump.
“I don’t believe it — you’re pulling my leg. It can’t be. Xavi? If Xavi leaves, who is the symbol? If he leaves, then anyone can leave. I do not understand it. You have left me in a state of shock. That is for sure? It can’t be. Xavi cannot leave Barca. I hope I am [staying], I believe so — but now you have left me shocked. You are pulling my leg with that about Xavi, no?“
Víctor Valdés announced over a year ago that he would not continue with FC Barcelona. French club AS Monaco, home to former Barça player Éric Abidal, offered Valdés a pre-contract that would bind the goalkeeper at their club after his time was up at FCB. Now reports are that the French club will not honor that pre-contract due to Valdés knee injury, which is reportedly much worse than originally thought.
Mundo Deportivo claim that FC Barcelona want to begin a selling spree of the first team, as Luis Enrique aims to kick-start a new era at the Camp Nou. MD expects the likes of Francesc Fabregas, Alexis Sanchez and Dani Alves to be sold for big bucks. As of late, however, Barca’s trusty winger Pedro Rodriguez is being rumoured to being made available. And apparently, Dutchman Louis van Gaal is interested. Read on for more.
Gerard Piqué was caught on cameras telling Spanish national team manager Vicente del Bosque that Cesc Fàbregas has already secured a 33 million euro deal.
He sits down, saying: “[I'm going to] defend Cesc a bit,” then he rather loudly whispers to Del Bosque that “He [Cesc] already told me it’s done.” Del Bosque says, “Him?“, and Piqué replies, “He’s going. He told me 33 million.”
It appears clear, but is Piqué to be taken at his word? Was he really so oblivious to what he was saying? I have my suspicions.
As it appears most seem to forego actually reading, preferring the jump directly to the comments to rehash their same old points, perhaps this is a futile request. Still, I ask that readers first familiarize themselves with “A serious look at silly season” from my totalBarça colleague Eric. It’s an absolutely spot on assessment and contains both tone and message that I would have essentially repeated throughout the “If I were Zubi” series. The part on players not being “good enough to be effective” in big time matches has already been handled in Part 1, but these are the other phrases I want to highlight: the underestimation in difficulty of minute management, “grass is often greener”, how things that look nice and shiny from afar can look much duller up close, the many risks of mass signing, the type of player we need more of not less and the too true “frustrated child”.
But before pushing onwards, a quick recap of where Part 1 left off.
Chilean newspaper El Mercurio is reporting that FC Barcelona President Josep Maria Bartomeu has spoken out against selling Alexis Sanchez and that he definitely sees the Chilean forward as a vital part of FCB’s plan for next season. “Alexis is not on the market; he has a strong contract, he’s a player on our team, and he had an excellent season with Barcelona… Obviously, Alexis enters into our plans for next season. He’s always needed by us, he’s a very highly valued footballer in this institution.”
According to Mundo Deportivo, Victor Valdés said goodbye to his teammates today, giving a short speech in the locker room . After Valdés’ ACL injury, President Josep Bartomeu offered him a place with the team next season if Victor’s plans changed, but it seems that Barcelona’s number one will depart this summer as planned. An undeniable legend of the club and arguably Barça’s best ever keeper, Valdés announced almost one year ago exactly that he would not renew his contract and is strongly rumored to be joining French club AS Monaco this summer.
With FIFA’s announcement that the transfer ban will be suspended pending appeal, culés worldwide took to the web to offer their personal plans for the coming summer. Silly season, as it is affectionately known, has well and truly begun. This year promises to be the silliest in years, as words like “revolution” and “overhaul” are bandied about. Between the club’s refusal to change or evolve and the threat of the transfer ban falling a year or two from now, the prevailing mentality is that Barcelona must completely reshape the squad, as Pep Guardiola did in the summer of 2008.
Andoni Zubizarreta, FC Barcelona’s sporting director, has been the subject of some juicy rumours since the FIFA transfer ban dropped this week. Firstly, it was reported by Cataluyna Radio that “Zubi” gave his resignation to the club after the FIFA sanctions were announced but had it rejected by club president Josep Maria Bartomeu and sports vice president Josep Maria Mestre.
Also being reported is that Zubi has personally called Marc Andre ter Stegen, Barça’s hoped for replacement for departing goalkeeper Víctor Valdés, and reassured him that his transfer would still be allowed.
Read on to see if there is any truth to either of these rumours.
FIFA have banned FC Barcelona from making any transfers for two consecutive transfer windows for breaches related to the international transfer and registration of players under the age of 18. According to FIFA, “With regard to the case in question, FC Barcelona has been found to be in breach of art. 19 of the Regulations in the case of ten minor players and to have committed several other concurrent infringements in the context of other players, including under Annexe 2 of the Regulations.” Along with FC Barcelona, the FIFA Disciplinary Committee has also sanctioned the Real Federación Española de Fútbol (RFEF) in this allegation.
Can this be appealed? What does this mean for the signings of Ter Stegen and Halilovic? What is the club’s official statement regarding this matter? Stick with totalBarça for updates as they break.
For some excerpts from the official statement from FIFA, follow the jump:
Barcelona reacted excellently to all the criticism with a top-notch performance and win against Manchester City on Wednesday, but as all the praise settled the usual issues came up once again. The most prominent discussion was once again, regarding next year’s squad. Spanish newspaper Sport reports that Dani Alves has been put up for sale by the club, while Martín Montoya hasn’t put pen to paper on his contract yet. That leaves Barça with a lot of work to do in the summer. Will Operation Right Back be set up?
17-year-old Dinamo Zagreb midfielder Alen Halilović has confirmed a move to FC Barcelona on his official Facebook and Instagram accounts. The young Croatian is regarded as one of the best midfield talents in the world, drawing comparisons to Andrés Iniesta and even Lionel Messi, due to his excellent left foot. He has made 48 appearances for the Dinamo first team in the last two seasons, becoming the youngest goalscorer in the Prva HNL, the second-youngest player to ever feature in the Champions League, and the youngest ever player to debut for the Croatian national team in the process. The transfer fee is rumored to be somewhere between three and ten million euros, and Halilović would play a year with the B team before promotion.
Bojan Krkić’s story is a sorry one. The 23-year-old striker experienced a fast track to the FC Barcelona first team after becoming La Masia’s highest ever goalscorer, but couldn’t make it, and has been since touring Europe on loan. Yet if English newspaper ‘The Mirror’ is to be believed, Liverpool is to give the striker, who is now loan to Ajax, a new lease of life in the summer transfer window. Read more after the jump.
Former Bayern Munich and Real Madrid coach Jupp Heynckes praises the young Borussia Mönchengladbach goalkeeper, Marc Andre Ter Stegen, and believes that the 21 year old German is the ideal replacement for FC Barcelona’s current goalkeeper Víctor Valdés, who is set to leave the Catalan club by the end of this season. Read what Heynckes had to tell Mundo Deportivo about Barça’s summer target after the jump.