Saturday 12 April 2008

Ronaldinho agrees terms with Milan

The brother and agent of Barcelona playmaker Ronaldinho (28), Roberto de Assís, who was seen partying last night in the 'Tocqueville 13' night club in Milan, has declared to Italian sports paper La Gazzetta dello Sport that he has found a deal with AC Milan: "In general, Ronaldinho and Milan have agreed." With the last details still to be defined, the paper claims that Ronaldinho, whose contract with Barcelona expires in 2010, will sign a contract for four seasons until June 2012, receiving 8 million euro net a year.

Milan vice president Adriano Galliani confirmed the agreement to Italian television channel Sky Italia: "We go step by step. We have a principal agreement with the player and now we will have to negotiate with Barcelona." Galliani announced that he will travel next week to Barcelona to try to close the deal. Roberto will travel to Barcelona as soon as possible to talk with Barcelona officials.

Italian sports paper La Gazzetta delo Sport claims that Barcelona is demanding a transfer fee of 30 million euro but that Milan offers a lower price and would even consider to use Article 17 of the FIFA transfers regulation, which allowes a player to leave after three years paying a defined transfer fee, which in Ronaldinho's case would be 16 million euro. Italian television channel Sportitalia claims that Barcelona would receive a transfer fee of 22 million euro.

Read more:
Inter president not giving up on Ronaldinho
Ronaldinho used Manchester City
Ronaldinho to Milan: principal agreement
Milan derby for Ronaldinho
Ronaldinho can negotiate with other teams

Inter president not giving up on Ronaldinho

Despite several reports and even pictures about the Thursday events (read more here), Roberto de Assís, brother and agent of Barcelona playmaker Ronaldinho (28), yesterday denied in an interview with Spanish news agency EFE that he met with AC Milan officials earlier this week to negotiate about a transfer of his brother. Asked about the future of Ronaldinho in Barcelona, Roberto referred to the running contract but didn't exclude anything: "He has a contract until 2010, but I cannot confirm or deny anything. This is football, so everything can happen."

Catalan sports paper Sport nevertheless claims that, although Inter could have offered more money, Milan and Roberto have already come to a total agreement: Ronaldinho will sign a contract for four seasons and will earn 8 million euro net a year.

The only thing that is still needed to close the deal is that Barcelona agrees on the transfer price. With Milan offering 20 million euro and Barcelona asking 30 million euro, the paper believes the final fee will turn around 25 million euro. Barcelona would also ask a compensation for the income loss due to the fact that Ronaldinho won't be able to participate in the summer tours.

The latter would not be a problem for AC Milan president Silvio Berlusconi who has promised the arrival of the Brazilian and can't come back on this anymore. Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that AC Milan vice president Adriano Galliani stayed in permanent contact with Berlusconi during the Thursday meeting in the Giannino restaurant, owned by AC Milan defender and Georgian international Kakha Kaladze, in Milan (read more here).

The Milan president is aware that Ronaldinho is a world icon and that the transfer will have great consequences for Milan and his companies. Ronaldinho could make the Milan brand rise 50 per cent in growing markets like the Asian one. The involvement of Berlusconi in the upcoming Italian elections would have been decisive in last week's developments.

As was the renewed interest of Inter Milan. El Mundo Deportivo claims that Roberto promised Inter president Massimo Moratti to meet with him before he signes anything. Moratti confirmed this to the paper: "We know that Ronaldinho will only decide on his future after talks with Inter. Both Barcelona and the player have assured us thereof."

To Italian sports paper Il Corriere dello Sport, Moratti said a similar thing: "We are receiving clear signs of interest. The player and Barcelona will not move a muscle before hearing our proposal." El Mundo Deportivo suggests that Roberto and Moratti could meet shortly in Paris, where both Moratti and Ronaldinho have a house and where Roberto will spend the coming days.

Barcelona surely doesn't plan to interfere in the whole process. Barcelona president Joan Laporta has a great relationship with both Milan (through Milan vice president Galliani) and Inter (through the son of the Inter president). When Barcelona receives a reasonable transfer fee, Ronaldinho will be able to leave without a problem to the club of his wish.

Sevilla's Keita on Barcelona agenda

French sports paper L'Equipe claims that Barcelona is interested in signing Sevilla defensive midfielder Seydou Keita (28) in the coming transfer window. Other European top clubs like Liverpool, Real Madrid and Juventus would also keep an eye on the Malian international, who came to Sevilla from Lens last summer for 4 million euro°, a transfer price that at least would already have been tripled by now.

(read more on the Keita transfer story here)

Guardiola sets his conditions

Catalan sports paper Sport reports that Barcelona B manager Josep Guardiola (37) is at this moment not thinking about taking over as Barcelona manager. The former Barcelona player is certainly not willing to take over before the end of this season and is at this moment convinced that current Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard (45) will continue next season.

Guardiola is totally focusing on playing the promotional play offs with Barcelona B and thinks he will still to be the Barcelona B manager next season, with the team by then hopefully having promoted to the Spanish third division. The paper claims Guardiola would not be interested in offers coming from other teams (read more here).

When the Barcelona board nevertheless would ask him to replace Frank Rijkaard next season and pronounces its total confidence in the former Barcelona captain, he would change his current plans. When he would take over, Guardiola will demand the control over the sports matters, a decisive vote in the transfer policy and the backing of the board when he starts the clean-out of the squad.

Read more:
Getafe thinks about Guardiola
Guardiola takes Mourinho's pole
Could Guardiola be the emergency solution?

Ronaldinho used Manchester City

British tabloid The Sun claims that Barcelona playmaker Ronaldinho (28) has revealed to team mates earlier this week that he would prefer to move to the English Premier League, giving Manchester City renewed hopes to sign the Brazilian this summer. The club would be ready to offer Ronaldinho a salary of 12,5 million euro° a year and an interesting image rights deal, something the club wants to compensate by huge commercial spin-offs.

British tabloid The Daily Mail claimed yesterday that Manchester City was already offered Ronaldinho back in January, when Manchester City president Thaksin Sinawatra was alerted to the player's availability. Manchester City manager Sven-Göran Eriksson doesn't believe the transfer is possible and would be privately hoping the interest of his president in the Brazilian fades away.

British newspaper The Guardian suggested that the Manchester City president has been naive in the whole case and that Roberto de Assís, brother and agent of Ronaldinho, has used Manchester City to alert other potential buyers and to push up the price. Manchester City manager Eriksson thinks that Chelsea was one of the real targets: "After last weekend's game I met Roberto and do you know where? He was outside the dressing room of Chelsea. What he was doing there I don't know."

Thaksin Shinawatra would nevertheless still believe that there's a good chance Ronaldinho will accept his club's offer, but Eriksson did not put him on his transfer wish list: "I have a crystal clear idea of who I want. I know that one target for the owner, and rightly so, is to fill the stadium for every match. One way to do that is to fight higher up the league. Another is to buy a big, big, big star. Ronaldinho was the number 1 player in the world two years ago and he is still a very good player. If you asked any manager in the world about him, you would get the same answer every time. But it's just unlikely he wants to swap Barcelona for us."

Read more:
Manchester City serious about Ronaldinho
Everybody wants Ronaldinho
Henry is realistic target for Manchester City

Alves wants to leave to improve

Sevilla right back defender Daniel Alves (24) has repeated (read more here and here) in an interview with Spanish news agency EFE that he wants to keep improving and that he therefore probably will have to leave Sevilla in the coming transfer window: "I know what I have in mind and once again I'm going to defend my interests in the summer."

Alves denies Sevilla president José María del Nido has promised him he could leave this summer. The Brazilian international puts the strong comments of Del Nido about not wanting to let him go or putting an impressive price tag on the player (read more here and here) in the right perspective: "I'm here for five years now and I start to understand how things work around here. We know the president and we know how he deals with things. I respect his opinion but I don't think the same and he should respect that too."

Read more:
Deal with Sevilla on Alves
Deal with Alves
Wanted: Right back

Friday 11 April 2008

Inter and Juventus rival for Deco

With Barcelona midfielder and Portuguese international Deco (30) probably on his way out in the summer, a tough battle for the player between Italian top clubs could be upcoming. Italian sports paper Tuttosport claims that both Inter Milan and Juventus have set their eyes on Deco since both clubs are aiming to strengthen their midfield in the next transfer window.

With Inter sports director Marco Branca eyeing Deco for a while now, Juventus would recently also have contacted Barcelona to inform the club about their interest. Inter is nevertheless said to be the favourites to land the Portuguese since the club would be most willing to accept the high economic demands of the player. To reduce the cash spending, Inter could well try to offer Barcelona an exchange with São Paulo forward and Inter loan out Adriano (26).

Italian television channel Italia 1 claims that a transfer price of around 10 million euro° could be enough to close the deal with Barcelona, where Deco has a contract until 2010. Despite the player's age, Inter manager Roberto Mancini considers the money a good investment, also because the Portuguese can play different positions and systems. The good relationship between Jorge Mendes, the agent of Deco, and Inter Milan president Massimo Moratti would be an advantage to keep off other interested clubs.

Read more:
Deco denies Juventus
Who could go?
Deco thinks about England or Atletico

Ronaldinho to Milan: principal agreement

Catalan radio station Ona FM claimed first last night that Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain, AC Milan representative for the Spanish market Ernesto Bronzetti and Roberto de Assís, brother and agent of Barcelona playmaker Ronaldinho (28), met on Thursday in the Rey Juan Carlos I hotel in the centre of Barcelona to discuss the transfer of the Brazilian. The meeting had been planned during a first contact earlier this week between Roberto and Barcelona.

Although Roberto would have pressured Barcelona by saying his brother will only leave on a free transfer, the parties would now have agreed that Ronaldinho will leave for a transfer fee between 15 and 20 million euro°. The radio station says a new meeting has been scheduled for next week to look at the further details of the agreement.

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo gives today a slightly different version of yesterday's events. The paper says it all began earlier this week when Inter seemed willing to step back in the race, making Milan decide to act immediately and try to close the deal as soon as possible. Roberto nevertheless would have promised Inter Milan president Massimo Moratti that he won't sign anything before the two have met.

Milan representative Bronzetti first met with Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain in Barcelona, where Bronzetti put down a formal offer of 20 million euro, lifting that up until a principal agreement was found between the two teams on a transfer fee of 30 million euro*. A Barcelona official told the paper that it was time for the club to put an end on the collaboration with Ronaldinho.

Bronzetti then asked if Milan could enter direct negotiations with the player and his agent, something that was allowed by Barcelona. Yesterday afternoon Bronzetti met with Roberto in Barcelona to inform him of the latest developments. In the evening, both decided to travel together with Roberto's legal adviser to Milan, using the private jet of AC Milan president Silvio Berlusconi.

In the already famous Giannino reastaurant (after another dinner last week, read more here and here), they met with Milan vice president Adriano Galliani, who said when entering the restaurant that it was 180% sure that Ronaldinho and Shevchenko would join Milan next season. Roberto said: "We only want Milan, that's why we're here." Milan president Berlusconi, who runs to be the next Italian prime minister, would like to conclude and announce the transfer of Ronaldinho before the end of the week.

Barcelona officials admitted to Spanish news agency Europa Press that there has been a meeting with Milan and described it as "a first contact". The talks will continue in the coming days. Italian sports paper La Gazzetta dello Sport claims that Inter Milan has not said their last word and that Inter president Moratti won't surrender without a fight. Ronaldinho has a contract with Barcelona until 2010 which includes a buyout clause of 125 million euro°°.

Read more here:
Milan derby for Ronaldinho
Ronaldinho can negotiate with other teams
Negotiations on Ronaldinho exit
Manchester City serious about Ronaldinho
Everybody wants Ronaldinho

Hleb to strenghten Barcelona midfield

Italian newspaper Tuttosport claims (unconfirmedly) that Barcelona is interested in Arsenal midfielder Aleksandr Hleb (26). If Arsenal would be willing to sell the Belarusian international, Barcelona would challenge Italian top club Inter Milan for the player.

British tabloid The Daily Mirror claims that Barcelona will move when the current season ends. Hleb would be on top of the Barcelona list when they will start spending the money they will receive for Ronaldinho, Thierry Henry and Gianluca Zambrotta. Barcelona would be ready to make a 15 million euro° bid to bring the midfielder to the club.

(read more on the Hleb transfer story here)

Eto'o could be Fenerbahçe star transfer

While Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Inter Milan is also keeping an eye on the Cameroonian striker, Turkish sports paper Fanatik (followed by all other major Turkish media) claims that Barcelona forward Samuel Eto'o (27) could join Turkish top club Fenerbahçe in the coming transfer window.

After being linked with Barcelona forward Thiery Henry (read more
here) and Barcelona playmaker Ronaldinho (read more here), Eto'o could in the end be the star player Fenerbahçe president Aziz Yildirim has promised to bring in. The president declared earlier this week: "We will sign someone who's as famous as Roberto Carlos but who is not Brazilian."

Eto'o is said to consider leaving Barcelona in the summer because of the bad times the club is going through and because of the racist attacks the player has suffered in Spain. The Cameroonian would already have contacted Galatasay central defender Rigobert Song to ask his compatriot about the Turkish league and life in Istanbul.

Former Fenerbahçe player Oktay Derelioglu was quoted in the Turkish press claiming that the Turkish champion already found a deal with the Cameroonian international: "Yes, Fenerbahçe has reached an agreement with Eto'o. Now, they are trading with Barcelona. There is a 99% chance Eto'o will be wearing Fenerbahçe's jersey next year."

Fanatik says that Fenerbahçe would have offered Barcelona 40 million euro° for the player but that Barcelona rejected the bid. Madrid sports tabloid Marca claims that Fenerbahçe could be willing to higher the bid up to 90 million euro*, a sum that was originally made available for the transfer of Ronaldinho (read more here). Player's agent and Fenerbahçe trust person Dino Pasalic, who brought Roberto Carlos to Turkey, is said to be involved in the negotiations.

Read more:
Fenerbahce wants Ronaldinho
Eto'o for sale
Fenerbahce wants Henry

Youth: Miralem Pjanic (Metz)

Asked about the rumours linking him with a number of European top clubs including Barcelona (read more here), Metz attacking midfielder Miralem Pjanic (18) has said he would not mind staying in the French Ligue 1 for some years, although his club is almost certain to be relegated at the end of the season.

In an interview with Luxembourg newspaper L'Essentiel, Pjanic said: "I wouldn't mind to go to a big French club. The Ligue 1 is an interesting competition with a very high level. I still have to improve and playing in the Ligue 1 can help me do that." The player suggests Olympique Lyon, Girondins de Bordeaux, Olympique Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain could all be possible destinations. It is said Pjanic could leave Metz for only 3 million euro°.

Miralem Pjanic is a Bosnia born player who has three nationalities: Bosnian, Luxembourger and French. He is currently playing for the Bosnian U-21. Although already a dozen of major European clubs had shown interest in the player, Pjanic signed last November a three year deal with Metz, that will take effect from July of this year. Pjanic made his debut for Metz' first team in August last year.

Read more:
Youth: Gai Assulin
Youth: Diego Polenta (Danubio)
Youth: Jonathan Dos Santos

Thursday 10 April 2008

Milan derby for Ronaldinho

AC Milan president Silvio Berlusconi said yesterday that his club is holding talks with Barcelona on a possible transfer of Barcelona playmaker Ronaldinho (28). He told that Milan vice president Adriano Galliani was going to meet Barcelona president Joan Laporta in Barcelona on Tuesday, but that the meeting was postponed when Laporta unexpectedly had to fly to the United States.

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo nevertheless reports that Laporta did not leave Barcelona this week and that the meeting probably was cancelled because of the little crisis Barcelona went through after last weekend's 0-0 against Getafe. Galliani confirmed that the supper was planned and said in an interview with Italian sports paper La Gazzetta dello Sport that the two clubs will talk next week.

A talkative Berlusconi said earlier this week that Milan is doing everything that is possible to sign Ronaldinho and that the player only wants to join Milan: "He has said that he won't go to any team but the world champions." One of the reasons for Ronaldinho's Milan preference would be that the Brazilian could meet up with a lot of compatriotes. And Berlusconi assured that every player is treated well in Milan.

Galliani said today to Italian sports paper La Gazzetta dello Sport that he is convinced Milan will be able to close the deal: "Of course, we should take into account that Ronaldinho has a contract will Barcelona. But when he decides to leave and his club let him, then he will come to Milan."

Meanwhile, Inter Milan seems to have taken up their interest for Ronaldinho. Italian sports paper Il Corriere dello Sport claims that American sports supplier Nike is behind the renewed interest. Ronaldinho is one of the main players having a contract with the company.

Nike representatives would have contacted Roberto de Assís, brother and agent of Ronaldinho, to communicate their preference for the Inter option, since the latter is sponsored by Nike, while Milan has a contract with German sports supplier Adidas. The paper says that Roberto and Inter Milan president Massimo Moratti have scheduled a meeting for newt week.

Inter Milan CEO Ernesto Paolillo said on Tuesday in an interview with Italian sports paper La Gazzetta dello Sport that his club is not rushing anything: "This is a time when you look around and you try to see what the market is offering. At the end of the season, our bookkeepers will inform us on the financial situation and then we can really move."

But asked about Ronaldinho, Paolillo suggested a contact between the club and the player: "We can always receive phone calls, so we're keeping our ears wide open. But we didn't start any negotiations yet." For the paper this is the confirmation that Inter sports director Marco Branca has called Roberto de Assís in an attempt to rejoin the race for Ronaldinho. Milan vice president Galliani ironically referred to the phone call when asked about Inter's interest in Ronaldinho in an interview with Italan sports paper La Gazzetta dello Sport: "I know about every phone call that Mister Branca does..."

Inter president Moratti played down the rivalry between the two teams this afternoon. Although admitting his club is following Ronaldinho, he seemed to exclude a bid race: "We are interested in every great player, but we're not desperate. I don't think there will be a heated derby."

La Gazzetta dello Sport claims that Inter will offer Barcelona 25 million euro for the Brazilian international, which would be 5 million euro more than what AC Milan would be prepared to pay. Italian sports paper Tuttosport claims that Barcelona president Joan Laporta has promised his Inter counterpart the right of first refusal when Ronaldinho will be sold.

pep's opinion:
Berlusconi is campaigning for the Italian elections this weekend, hope his interest for Ronaldinho doesn't suddenly fade away next week...

(read more on the Ronaldinho transfer story here)

Piqué focusing on Manchester

Asked about the rumours linking the player with a summer exit, Arturo Canales, the agent of Manchester United central defender Gerard Piqué (21), played down the reports about a possible return to Barcelona, the club the player left in the summer of 2004, in an interview with British sports site Setanta Sports: "I have seen that in the press too but there is nothing. Gerard has one more year left on his contract and the only thing now is to concentrate on Manchester and the Champions League."

Read more here:
Pique return looked at
Second thoughts about Garay
Pique could return

Zambrotta in Milan package deal

Asked if the deal on Barcelona right back defender and Italian international Gianluca Zambrotta (31) was already closed, AC Milan vice president Adriano Galliani said in an interview with Italian sports paper La Gazzetta dello Sport that this is not the case: "No it is not, since we did not yet agreed with Barcelona on the transfer price." Italian news site Milan News meanwhile suggests that Zambrotta could be included in a deal between Barcelona and Milan on Barcelona playmaker Ronaldinho (28): Milan could offer 30 million euro° for the transfer of both Ronaldinho and Zambrotta.

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Zambrotta was also discussed during a meeting between Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain and AC Milan representative Ernesto Bronzetti on the transfer of Barcelona playmaker Ronaldinho (read more here). Milan would have offered a transfer fee of 5 Million euro*.

Read more:
Milan welcomes Zambrotta
Zambrotta on Lippi shopping list
Milan close to signing Zambrotta

Read everything:
The Gianluca Zambrotta transfer story

Ajax wants Oleguer on loan

Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad claims that Dutch top club Ajax Amsterdam is interested in signing Barcelona defender Oleguer Presas (28) on loan.

Ajax would want to bring in several players from European top clubs. Current Dutch national team coach and future Ajax manager Marco van Basten is said to use his contacts in Barcelona and Milan to attract players like Oleguer or Milan's Yoann Gourcuff. Oleguer would have to replace in centre defence Ajax defender John Heitinga, who will leave for Atlético Madrid in the summer.

(read more on the Oleguer transfer story here)

Getafe thinking about Guardiola

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Primera División club Getafe is keeping an eye on Barcelona B manager Josep Guardiola (37). Getafe thinks that their current manager Michael Laudrup could well leave in the summer (read more here) and is therefore already looking for a possible substitute with the same profile: a young manager with a love for attacking football.

The name of Guardiola would have been put forward by some key players of the squad, who suggested the option to Getafe president Angel Torres. People close to the president say Torres appreciated the initiative of the players and is seriously considering the possibility of offering Guardiola the Getafe bench. After picking Quique Sánchez Flores (who left for Valencia), Bernd Schuster (who left for Real Madrid) and Michael Laudrup (who seems on his way to a European top club), Getafe president Torres is started to be seen as the manager's king maker.

pep's opinion:
this would just be the ideal step-up for Guardiola, allowing him to gain Liga experience in a quiet environment

Read more:
Guardiola takes Mourinho's pole
Everybody loves Michael
Getafe is the ideal manager step-up

Wednesday 9 April 2008

Ronaldinho can negotiate with other teams

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Barcelona economic vice-president Ferran Soriano met on Monday with Roberto de Assís, brother and agent of Barcelona playmaker Ronaldinho (28). The paper says that Soriano is the one who normally deals with Roberto and that a possible exit maybe wasn't even discussed.

Catalan sports paper Sport nevertheless claims that Barcelona has already let Roberto know that Barcelona does not count on the player anymore and that he can look for another team. But while Roberto, who has spoken by phone with Barcelona sports vice-president Marc Ingla and Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain, wants to close the deal in the next two weeks, Barcelona does not see the need to hurry. The paper says that it's Roberto's wish that his brother joins AC Milan, but that he keeps the Premier League option wide open in order to make Milan put more money on the table.

Meanwhile, Madrid sports tabloid Marca seems to entertain itself with the whole situation. While the tabloid claims this afternoon that Roberto de Assís could use Article 17 of the Fifa transfer regulations and offer his brother to Atlético Madrid (read more here) and Real Madrid (read more here) for a reduced price, it claimed this morning that Roberto would have received an offer from Chinese club Beijing Guoan.

Ronaldinho's brother would have met last week with Félix Moneo, the club's representative in Spain. The Chinese Super League team, who is also trying to attract former Barcelona player Diego Maradona as manager, has offered Ronaldinho two options: on the one hand a contract for a few months, so his stay in China can be used as a temporary stop allowing him to return to Europe, on the other hand a long-term contract. The player would get a salary increase, but Beijing Guoan would only be willing to pay Barcelona a transfer fee of 12 million euro°. The two parties would meet again this week.

Mourinho preparing to take over

Catalan radio station Ràdio Kanal Barcelona claims that former Chelsea manager José Mourinho (45) has met yesterday with former Barcelona player Luis Enrique (37) in a restaurant in Madrid. The two would have talked about the current situation of the Barcelona team. Mourinho explained his view on the way the team should play and possible incoming and outward transfers were discussed. The radio station says that Luis Enrique will act as assistant to Mourinho next season (read more here).

pep's opinion:
cut the crap, sign them now

Sevilla president denies Alves offer

Asked about new rumours linking Sevilla right back Daniel Alves (24) with a summer move to Barcelona (read more here and here), Sevilla president José María del Nido denied there has been an offer from Barcelona: "It's a lie and nothing more. We did not receive any concrete offer for a player."

The Sevilla president said that he has been receiving several phone calls for a number of players of the squad but that he did not enter any negotiation yet: "Until the Liga has not finished, we will not talk about players coming in or going out." Del Nido, who admitted that a possible non-qualification for the Champions League will have an effect on the planning of next season's squad, said that the club has even started talks with Alves' agent about a contract renewal for the Brazilian international.

In other statements, Del Nido said he hoped to keep Alves until his contract expires in 2012: "Last year we had the same talks, on many front pages it was said that he had already been transfered, but he still is playing for us. I'm sure when the season is over, we will be able to entertain ourselves during the transfer window, cause we're going to fill a lot of pages in the papers, a lot of hours on the radio and a lot of minutes on television."

Del Nido also ironically pronounced on the transfer price Barcelona president Joan Laporta would be ready to pay for Alves, who he descibes as 'maybe the best right back in the world': "For 25 million° I send him Daniel's shoes, so a boy from the youth academy can wear them."

Edmilson on Besiktas list

Turkish sports paper Fanatik claims that Barcelona defensive midfielder José Edmilson (31) is on top of the Besiktas list for next season.The Turkish top club wants to strengthen their defensive department, that has been hit by several injuries this season, by engaging a central defender and a defensive midfielder in the summer transfer market.

The paper says that the Besiktas board has authorized Besiktas executive Mario Berk to travel to Spain and to start negotiations with the Brazilian player, whose contract expires in June.

Read more:
Betis interested in Edmilson
A look at the coming transfer summer
Edmilson's wife wants to stay

Luis Enrique did not send his cv

Asked about the rumours linking him with a possible return to Barcelona as an assistant to the possible next Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola (read more here), former Barcelona right winger Luis Enrique (37) said earlier this week in an interview with Spanish news agency EFE that he didn't want to act opportunistic and denied any contacts: "I'm just a spectator at this moment. And what I'm certainly not going to do is to offer myself or to apply for the job."

Luis Enrique, who has been a qualified coach for several years now, added that he hopes current Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard will stay on for many more years to come and wins a lot of trophies.

Tuesday 8 April 2008

Negotiations on Ronaldinho exit

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Israeli player's agent Pini Zahavi, a representative of both Chelsea and Manchester City, has met yesterday with Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain and Barcelona sports vice president Marc Ingla in the Princesa Sofía Intercontinental hotel in Barcelona.

Zahavi communicated to the Barcelona officials what Chelsea and Manchester City are offering for Barcelona playmaker Ronaldinho (28). Manchester City would be willing to put the most money on the table for the Brazilian, including a record-breaking salary of 20 million euro°. This should compensate for the lack of history and prestige the club can offer and for the fact that Ronaldinho would not be able to participate in next season's Champions League. Chelsea would not be willing to break the 'psychological' barrier of 10 million euro*. On the transfer fee, Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Manchester City would be prepared to pay Barcelona a fee of 25 million euro°°.

After his trip around Europe, Roberto de Assís, the brother and agent of Ronaldinho, arrived in Barcelona on Sunday and had a first contact with Barcelona about the situation and the possible exit of his brother, whose contract expires in 2010. Roberto is expected to meet with Barcelona officials in the coming days.

With Inter Milan apparently having given up on the player at this stage, AC Milan is still considered to be a main contestant. Italian sports paper Il Corriere dello Sport claims that Milan will offer Barcelona 25 million euro°° for Ronaldinho. The Brazilian would get a five-year contract worth 9 million euro** a year, with the player being able to hold and exploit his portrait rights himself.

Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani said yesterday in an interview with Italian television channel Sky Italia that talks on Ronaldinho are being held but that the club is trying to be very careful. Galliani does not think that the fact that Milan maybe will not qualify for next season's Chamions League will make it impossible to sign Ronaldinho since Barcelona didn't play Champions League either when Ronaldinho joined the club back in 2003.

In a football talk show on the Catalan television channel 8TV, it was yesterday mentioned that Barcelona president Joan Laporta would have said to his Getafe counterpart Angel Torres on Sunday that "Ronaldinho is preferring the Milan option".

(read everything on the Ronaldinho transfer story here)

Cash shortage upsets Garay deal

Catalan sports weekly paper Gol claims that Barcelona has not paid the first block of 4 million euro° on the transfer of Racing Santander central defender Ezequiel Garay (21) in the beginning of April, like it had been agreed upon with Santander (read more here), because the club had troubles finding the necessary cash. The non-payment means that Barcelona has lost its option on the Argentinian defender.

Asked about the rumours linking him with clubs like Barcelona, Manchester United, Juventus, Garay told in an interview with British television station Sky Sports that he's not really closely following the whole situation: "I am calm. These questions are for my agent and the club, but it is normal that I wish to progress in my career. If a big offer finally arrives, then I do not have a preference about a concrete destination."

Read more:
Garay transfer is off
Rijkaard prefers Marquez over Garay
Garay agent wants more

Premier League clubs circling around Henry

British tabloid The Daily Star claims that Barcelona has put forward Thierry Henry (30) up for sale. A Barcelona source is quoted saying: "We have not opened the door for Henry and we have not closed it. If we receive a proposition then we will speak to the player." Premier League clubs Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and West Ham United would all consider to make a 20 million euro° bid for the French international, whose contract expires in 2012.

Newcastle manager Kevin Keegan, who is convinced he can attract big names to his club, said yesterday in an interview with BBC local radio station Radio Newcastle that Henry could be Newcastle's dream transfer in the summer: "I would like to fetch Thierry Henry back to England. He's the best player I've seen in the Premiership. When you're pitch-side, what I've seen him do to good players has been incredible."

Meanwhile, Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Chelsea, who are aware that the Frenchman does not feel comfortable playing and living in Barcelona and is missing his daughter Téa who is living with Henry's former wife Claire Merry in London, has been contacting with Henry's entourage. Before the club makes a formal offer to Barcelona, Chelsea wants to sound Henry out on his plans for the future and has proposed him to think about a summer return to London and the Premier League.

Read more:
Henry excluding England return
Henry is realistic target for Manchester City
Henry negotiating with new MLS team

Read everything:
The complete Thierry Henry transfer story

Deal with Sevilla on Alves

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Barcelona could have closed a deal with Sevilla for the transfer of Sevilla right back Daniel Alves (24). One of the most influent Barcelona board members would have taken up the negotiations, personally holding talks with Sevilla president José María del Nido.

In the end, Barcelona would pay between 28 and 30 million euro° for Alves, having tried to lower the price offering 22 million euro* plus Barcelona right winger Giovani Dos Santos (18), something that was rejected by the Sevilla president. Once the deal with Sevilla is formalized, Barcelona will have to find an agreement with the player (read more here).

After his last summer's veto on letting the player go because he really wanted Alves there for Sevilla's first participation in the Champions League, Sevilla president Del Nido would have promised the right back that he would be more flexible this summer. With Sevilla uncertain to qualify for next season's Champions League, Sevilla knows it won't be possible to hold on to the player.

Although Real Madrid could be preparing a huge offer for the player, including 30 million euro plus Getafe midfielder (with a Madrid buy-back option) Rubén de la Red, Alves would have asked his club to only negotiate with Barcelona. The Brazilian international prefers the Barcelona way of playing and the player loves the city, which he knows very well since his agent José Rodríguez 'Rodri' Baster is living there.

pep's opinion:
After Sport claiming last week that Barcelona had already a deal with Alves, it's clear the Catalan press is pushing the club to act, go after the player and close the deal as soon as possible. If he wouldn't come in the end, it would be a big blow to the fans, having a very negative impact on the image on the board.

(read everything on the Alves transfer story here)

Barcelona keeping an eye on Berbatov

British tabloid The Sunday Mirror claims that Barcelona is following Tottenham Hotspur forward Dimitar Berbatov (27).

Berbatov, whose contract expires in 2010 (with a club option to extend by another two years), would feel unsettled at Tottenham, wishing to join a team who regularly plays the Champions league. Although Tottenham manager Juande Ramos wants to keep Berbatov, the club would now have put a price tag on the player: 50 million euro°.

A second condition to let Berbatov go is that the Bulgarian international could only leave for a foreign club. Interested Premier League teams like Manchester United, Chelsea or Manchester City, the latter being prepared to pay 40 million euro*, would not be allowed to bid for the player. The paper says that Barcelona, along with Real Madrid, AC Milan and Inter Milan, would be ready to compete for the Bulgarian striker.

pep's opinion:
you can't see us pay that price, certainly not cause we have already too much world class centre forwards, of which only one can play that postion in the 4-3-3 system

Monday 7 April 2008

The race to the bench: Guardiola takes Mourinho's pole (3)

If current Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard (45) will have to leave at the end of the season, Barcelona is expected to look for a manager with the same profile as the Dutchman, namely a manager who has an attacking style on the pitch, who looks for the dialogue with the players and who gives a worthy image of the club off the pitch. Barcelona president Joan Laporta again made that clear on a meeting with the penyes on Sunday, describing the way the team should always play: "We should choose to control the game. Our team likes to have the ball and play with it, seeking the victory by doing so."

Villareal manager Manuel Pellegrini (54), Bordeaux manager Laurent Blanc (42) and Getafe manager Michael Laudrup (43) all seem to be high on the list of candidates. Although some fans apparently did not forget how Laudrup left for Real Madrid in the summer of 1994 (read more here). Yesterday there were some anti-Laudrup slogans visible in the Camp Nou, one of them reading: "Laudrup, traitor. We don't want you anymore."

The number one candidate nevertheless seems to be current Barcelona B manager Josep Guardiola (37). It is believed that Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain is putting Guardiola forward as the main option to replace Rijkaard. Last year, it was also Begiristain who offered his former team-mate the opportunity to start his career as manager with Barcelona B. Apparently with the aim to make him gain experience and to give him a more important role in the near future. Although an appointment this summer would come earlier than anyone could have expected back then.

Guardiola is said to be a manager who tries to combine quality football with sacrifice, hard work and tactical strength. He values the indiviual talent but even more so the team work. The former Barcelona captain knows the club inside out and has charisma and a strong character, which all should allow him to deal with the fans, the press and the players.

Despite being a true Barcelona legend, Guardiola did not think he was too good to start his second career in the Spanish fourth division. Barcelona B is in the race for the promotional play off to return to the third division. Catalan sports paper Sport claims that the initial plan of Guardiola was to promote with Barcelona B and then stay with the team for one more year.

If offered the job of head coach of the first team, Guardiola knows that the risk of burning himself too early is real. Although the board is divided on the issue and no candidate has the support of all board members, Barcelona president Joan Laporta seems to approve the choice of his sports director, so the offer could well come in the next weeks.

(this is the third and last part of this contribution, the first part was published on Saturday, the second part was published yesterday)

Manchester City serious about Ronaldinho

British newspaper The Guardian and British tabloid The Daily Mail report that Roberto de Assís, brother and agent of Barcelona playmaker Ronaldinho (28), was in Manchester on Saturday where he followed the Premier League game between Manchester City and Chelsea. Manchester City is believed to try to sign a big name in the summer (read more here).

With Manchester City president Thaksin Shinawatra preparing for a corruption trial in his home country Thailand, Roberto has been talking earlier this week with his close aides and Manchester City board members Pairoj Piempongsant and Tawesuk Jack Srisumrid, along with player's agent Pini Zahavi. It would have been the latter who convinced Shinawatra to join the race for Ronaldinho (read more here). The dialogue is believed to have been continued at a restaurant after the match. Encouraged by the initial discussions, City would be willing to offer Ronaldinho over 125 000 euro° a week.

Asked about the matter, Manchester City manager Sven-Göran Eriksson kept his cool: "I hope it's true. I would not protest against it. But I don't know if Ronaldinho wants to play in the Intertoto Cup next season."

Roberto would have been in the last few days encouraging Chelsea to also enter the bidding and held in that perspective talks with Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon and Chelsea assistant coach Henk ten Cate, the former assistant of Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard.

Asked about his travelling to Italy and England in the last week, Roberto told in an interview with Spanish football weekly paper Don Balón that this has nothing to do with an upcoming transfer of his brother: "It's my job to build and to maintain a network in the world of football, so it's normal I'm going somewhere to talk in person when I think that is necessary. Ronaldinho has a contract until 2010, so we're not really looking for something new."

Meanwhile, Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain didn't want to comment yesterday on Ronaldinho's future nor on a possible meeting with Robero in the coming days: "All we wish for at this moment is that the player recovers as soon as possible." Begiristain nevertheless denied Barcelona had already received an offer by AC Milan for the Brazilian.

pep's opinion:
Roberto had a few lost hours in England and was looking for a Saturday afternoon vip treatment

Newcastle held first talks on Deco

North East England regional newspaper Sunday Sun claims that Newcastle United is preparing a 20 million euro° bid for Barcelona midfielder Deco (30). In the past weeks Newcastle officials would have held a positive meeting with Jorge Mendes, the agent of the Brazilian-born Portuguese international, who has made clear that Barcelona could be willing to talk about a transfer.

Newcastle, who has been wrongly linked with Deco in the past, would offer Deco the same week salary as their striker Michael Owen: 125 000 euro*. Chelsea and Tottenham, who could offer the player European football next season, are also said to be interested in the Portuguese. But with Tottenham not able to match the Newcastle salary offer and with Chelsea uncertain about their manager and therefore not be able to sign important players early in the summer, Newcastle is confident to bring Deco to Newcastle.

Read more:
Deco thinks about England or Atlético
Deco out? Lampard in
Deco denies Juventus

Crosas goes French / 18

Olympique Lyon lost yesterday with 3-1 away against Marseille. The team nevertheless stays on top of the French league with a six point lead on Bordeaux. Barcelona loan out Marc Crosas (20) started on the bench and stayed there for 90 minutes.

(read more on Crosas in Lyon here)

Real Madrid sports director wants Iniesta

Asked about which Barcelona player he would like to transfer, Real Madrid sports director Pedrag Mijatovic has declared in an interview with French monthly magazine So Foot that he admires Barcelona midfielder Andrés Iniesta (23): "Barcelona has a great team, with very good players. I am very happy with the players we have, but if I had to choose one, I would go for Iniesta."

Mijatovic clarified that Real Madrid is nevertheless not planning an offer for the player in the near future: "He's not on our list because he's very happy in Barcelona and he just extended his contract there." Last summer there were rumours that Real Madrid was willing to pay Iniesta's buyout clause of 60 million euro°.

Sunday 6 April 2008

The race to the bench: Guardiola takes Mourinho's pole (2)

The fact that a new Barcelona manager will only be appointed if the team does not win a trophy this season (read more here), is a clear disadvantage for former Chelsea manager José Mourinho (45). The Portuguese does not want to wait until mid-May with the risk to find himself at that moment in a situation in which Barcelona does win a trophy and goes on with current manager Frank Rijkaard (45) and in which all other European top clubs have already decided on their manager for next season. Meanwhile, Mourinho's constant flirts with other teams aren't doing his image any good either.

A second disadvantage is the fact that Mourinho seems to ask the total control over the sports department (including the youth academy and -most importantly- the transfer policy). Not only is this not usual in the club, it also would mean that Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain and people like unofficial external adviser Johan Cruijff would lose influence.

Another disadvantage for Mourinho is that he is seen as a result-driven manager, something that doesn't fit the beautiful-and-attacking-football tradition of Barcelona. President Joan Laporta said today on a meeting with the penyes that a manager who has another way of playing is not an option: "Those who are linking our club with managers who have a very different style are mistaken. No coach that has another way of playing will ever come here."

A last disadvantage is that, for different reasons, Mourinho would have to face fierce opposition from influent sectors within and around the club. Mourinho would not be able to work in peace and could soon come under fire of insiders, journalists and a part of the fans who did not forget about Mourinho's negative statements surrounding the recent Champions League ties between Barcelona and Chelsea.

Although the chances of Mourinho would have diminished in the last couple of weeks, the Barcelona board seems nevertheless still divided on the issue. Some board members are in favour of a radical change and think that Mourinho would be the one who is able to bring that change, both on and off the pitch. Economic vice-president Ferran Soriano and sports vice-president Marc Ingla would be the ones pushing most for Mourinho. Ingla met with Mourinho back in January (read more here) and got a very positive image about the manager.

(this is the second part of this contribution, the first part was published yesterday, the third part will be published tomorrow)

Cesc will have to move

Catalan sports paper Sport reports that Barcelona is not planning to take the initiative for a return of Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fàbregas (20) to Barcelona. The club does not want to pay a big transfer fee for a player that was educated in their own youth academy. It is assumed the dream of the player is to play one day in his home country and Barcelona thinks that when the time is there, it will have to be Cesc himself who will have to act and convince Arsenal to put a reasonable price.

The paper says that past reports about the new agent of the Spanish international being David Dein are not true (read more here). After Cesc dismissed his former agent Joseba Díaz, he has been contacted by several FIFA agents, but the player did not yet make a decision. At this moment, Cesc is only represented by agent Mariano Aguilar for matters involving his portrait rights.

Read more here:
New Cesc agent on good terms with Barcelona
Cesc fires his agent
Cesc could never return

Read everyting on the Cesc transfer story here

Lahm close to Bayern renewal

It seems that a telephone converstation with future Bayern manager Jürgen Klinsmann two weeks ago, has convinced Bayern Munich full back defender Philipp Lahm (24) to extend his current contract with the German club, that expires in 2009.

In an interview with Munich tabloid TZ, the German international says the negotiations with Bayern Munich general manager Uli Hoeness about a renewal are ongoing: "Last week we started the talks. I can well imagine that we will find an agreement next week." Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge confirmed the talks to the paper and added that he also has a good feeling about the outcome.

Philipp Lahm is considered to be one of the top candidates to replace Barcelona right back Ginaluca Zambrotta (31) as of next season. The German earlier refused several renewal offers from Bayern and stated he would like to play for a foreign team.

(read everything on the Lahm transfer story here)

Pellegrini focusing on Villareal

Asked about the rumours linking him with a summer move to Barcelona (read more here), Villareal manager Manuel Pellegrini (54) said at a press conference that he wants to stay focused on Villareal: "One cannot control the news that comes out. This is something to which I don't want to attach great importance, because it's really no big deal. Of course one should feel proud when one's name is linked with a great club, but this should not be a reason to get distracted."

Catalan sports paper Sport says that Barcelona is one of the few clubs that Pellegrini would like to coach one day. A few weeks ago, the Chilean manager would have rejected a big offer from an important club because the latter was not on the list of his favourite clubs. The contract of Pellegrini expires in 2010. The manager has a buyout clause of 2 million euro°.

Youth: Erick Flores (Flamengo)

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo reports that Barcelona would be following Flamango attacking midfielder Erick Flores (16)°.

The Brazilian youth international, a quick and creative player, is quoted saying that Barcelona is interested in signing him. A problem could be that Erick Flores is represented by Alexandre Martins and Reinaldo Pitta, the ex-agents of former Barcelona striker Ronaldo, who both have been imprisoned for money laundry.

(read more youth transfer stories here)

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