Saturday 26 April 2008

Deco wants to stay

Asked about the rumours linking him with a summer exit, Barcelona midfielder and Portuguese international Deco (30) has told in an interview with Portuguese sports paper Record that he prefers to stay with Barcelona, but that the decision will be taken in the summer: "To play for Barcelona was a dream since I was a kid and I did not only play for the club, I made history with the team. At the end of the season, I will decide on my future together with the club."

Deco, whose contract expires in 2010, says he would like to finish his career playing for Corinthinians, his favourite Brazilian club when he was a boy. After his career he wants to spend more time to business and to the foundation and the institute he has set up.

Read more:
Which Milan for Deco?
Deco could be new Bayern star transfer
Newcastle held first talks on Deco

Mourinho wants to have fun with Barcelona

In an interview with Spanish newspaper ABC former Chelsea manager José Mourinho (45) was confronted with the fact that he never has hidden his wish to return to Barcelona as head coach. Asked if he thought that's an option at this moment in his career, Mourinho left everything open: "Barcelona is absolutely a fantastic club. I had a great time when I was there ànd during the six games in three years I played against them when I was at Chelsea. I don't know if I will coach Barcelona or play against them in the future. But I do know that I hope to enjoy myself again with Barcelona."

Mourinho says that he's ready to return (read more here) but that he did not yet sign a contract with Inter Milan or any other club: "I'm still free to decide on my future and I don't feel any pressure to do that soon. There's no reason to hurry, I can afford to wait some more time and pick the best option. I'm calm about it, we'll see where I will end up."

The Portuguese manager neverheless repeated his career plan to first coach in Spain or Italy before going back to the English Premier League (read more here): "I have worked for four years in Spain. Of course only as assistant and not as head coach. But it was a great time and I wouldn't mind to return."

Read more:
Principal agreement with Mourinho
Mourinho preparing to take over
Guardiola takes Mourinho's pole

Transfer history: Ferguson (Manchester United)

After the manager himself told last week that he was close to joining Barcelona in 1986 (read more here), Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson (66) was later on a second time not far away from the Barcelona bench.

When Barcelona president Joan Gaspart was looking for a successor to Llorenç Serra Ferrer in the summer of 2001, Ferguson was one of the main candidates. But in the end the Barcelona board didn't push that option through and preferred to sign caretaker Carles Rexach, former Barcelona player and at that time member of the Barcelona technical staff, as the head coach for the 2001-2002 season.

Read more:
Transfer history: Zidane
Ex-Barça: Llorenç Serra Ferrer
Transfer history: Iaquinta (Juventus)

Read all transfer history stories here

Messi wanted by European top clubs

Although the player has a contract until 2014 and a buyout clause of 150 million euro°, Catalan sports paper Sport claims that several European top clubs are ready to break the bank to bring in Barcelona right winger and Argentinian international Lionel Messi (20).

Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid would all prepare a new summer bid for Messi. Inter would already have contacted the father of the player. Because Messi has no plans to leave and Barcelona doesn't have any intention to sell the player, it seems unlikely that a transfer could be agreed upon between all parties.

Read more:
Messi is Chelsea top target
Inter president wants Messi at any price
Messi wants to be captain

Case closed: Modric

Dinamo Zagreb midfielder and Croatian international Luka Modric (22) will not play for Barcelona as of next season, like had been rumoured over the last months (read more here).

Tottenham Hotspur has announced the transfer of Modric on its official website. The statement of the Premier League club reads: "The Club is delighted to announce that it has reached agreement with Dinamo Zagreb for the transfer of Croatian midfielder, Luka Modric. Personal terms have been agreed with the player and he will now undertake a medical and apply for a work permit."

The transfer has meanwhile been confirmed on the official website of Croatian champion Dinamo Zagreb: "On Friday night, all terms of the transfer of Luka Modric to Tottenham have been settled. Tottenham president Daniel Levy came to Zagreb and reached a deal with Dinamo vice president Zdravko Mamic and Modric's agent Zoran Mamic. Modric and his agent flew to London where Luka will be introduced to the fans before the match against Bolton. He'll go through the medical test on Sunday whereupon he'll sign a five-year contract."

Based upon the rumours in England and Croatia, the transfer fee is believed to be somewhere between 20 and 25 million euro°, depending on variables.

Read more:
Modric approved
Case closed: Benzema
Case closed: Mascherano

Read the whole Modric-Barcelona transfer story here

Friday 25 April 2008

Edmilson on his way to Villareal

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona defensive midfielder José Edmílson underwent successfully a medical check-up in Villareal on Monday. Although Villareal did not want to confirm or deny the information, the paper says that everything indicates that the Brazilian will play for Villareal next season. The contract of Edmílson expires at the end of the season and since Barcelona is not planning to offer the player a renewal, the player could leave on a free transfer.

Madrid sports tabloid As says today that Villareal already tried to transfer Edmílson during the January transfer window. Villareal would now have restarted the talks with the agents of the player and the only doubt left would be the many injuries Edmílson had during his period at Barcelona.

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo reports that Villareal is indeed interested in the defensive midfielder. But although a principal agreement has already been found and Edmílson is delighted with a possible transfer to Villareal, the player wants to look at other options and wait until the end of the season to sign a final deal. Spanish local radio station Radio Castellón nevertheless claims that an agreement has already been reached.

At a press conference, Edmílson denied the medical and said he did not sign a contract with another club yet: "At this moment I'm totally concentrating on Barcelona and I don't want to hear anything about a transfer. The team performance is the most important thing now."

Read more:
Edmilson on Besiktas list
A look at the coming transfer summer
Betis interested in Edmilson

Could Henry return to Arsenal?

British tabloid The Sun claims that Newcastle is preparing a 20 million euro° bid to bring Barcelona forward Thierry Henry (30) back to England. Newcastle manager Kevin Keegan has put the French international on top of his wish list (read more here and here) and Newcastle owner Mike Ashley would have given his approval.

Keegan thinks that the arrival of Henry could have a similar effect on the fans as that of Alan Shearer back in 1996 and Ashley wants to bring a big star to the club. Newcastle insiders believe that Henry could be attracted by the prospect of becoming the key figure of a new project at Newcastle, a club with a great tradition and great fans. Barcelona would be ready to let go Henry, who has three years left on his contract, if a decent offer comes in.

The latter is confirmed by British newspaper The Independent, who reports that Barcelona is desperate to sell Henry. With the other Manchester City target Ronaldinho believed to want some of his current team mates with him in Manchester, the possibility has been raised of both arriving in Manchester (read more here), although this does not seem financially possible.

And Newcastle manager Keegan laughed off the rumours at a press conference, saying his club is shopping in a different market: "The Henry story, I went to a talk-in and a 10-year-old kid asked me: 'If you could fetch one player to Newcastle United, who would that be?', and I said Thierry Henry because I think he is the best player the Premier League has ever had. From that, we are now signing him, which is fantastic, really."

Meanwhile, Thierry Henry himself has said in an interview with British television channel BBC One that he doesn't regret his decision to leave Arsenal last summer and that he doesn't think about leaving: "I'm happy here at Barcelona and I still have three years of my contract left with the club."

Asked about the rumours linking him with a move to the Major League Soccer or a return to England, Henry said he missed England and seemed to indicate that he would not consider a move to a Premier League club that is not his former club Arsenal: "There has been since I arrived here a lot of speculation from day one but, hey, go back where? There's only one team for me in my heart. It took me a while to understand what that club meant. In England there's only one team for me. Everybody knows the love and affection I have for Arsenal."

At a press conference today, Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger reacted to the statements of his compatriot saying that he still has a close contact with Henry and leaving the door for a return open: "I read the statement. He said he is happy at Barcelona but if he comes back he will only play at Arsenal. I find that a very good statement. Although at the moment I do not think about re-signing him, you can never say never. I still think he has a lot to offer as a player. For me, Thierry is an efficient goalscorer."

Read more:
Premier League clubs circling around Henry
Henry is realistic target for Manchester City
Henry negotiating with new MLS team

First talks with Guiza

Madrid sports tabloid Marca claims that Barcelona has held the first contacts with Mallorca forward Dani Güiza (27). Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain has met recently with former nude model Nuria Bermúdez, the wife and one of the agents (together with Félix Moneo) of Güiza, to know more about the contract situation of the player and his plans for next season.

The Spanish international seems to have a buyout clause of 15 million euro° and feels he's ready to set another step in his career. Güiza, who already scored 21 goals this season, is now concentrating on the last games of the season with Mallorca and on trying to get into the Spanish squad for Euro 2008. He plans to wait and see how the negotiations between Mallorca and the interested clubs will develop before he makes a decision on leaving or staying.

Barcelona did not yet make a formal offer but it's expected that the club will try to start negotiations with Mallorca soon. Although Valencia is also interested and is willing to throw forward Nikola Zigic in the deal, Barcelona would have taken the lead. Mallorca president Vicente Grande will try to keep Güiza by offering the player a contract renewal and by raising the buyout clause to 24 million euro°.

Dani Güiza played before for Barcelona B on loan from Recreativo Huelva. In the first half of 2003, he scored 5 goals in 15 matches in a team with current Barcelona players Víctor Váldés, Albert Jorquera, Oleguer Presas and Andrés Iniesta, who came close to the promotion to the Spanish Second Division. Güiza, a declared madridista, nevertheless has always said that Barcelona didn't treat him well by not giving him a real chance.

Read more:
Barcelona can talk with Amauri
Barcelona linked with Mallorca's Jonas
Barcelona keeping an eye on Berbatov

Barcelona could get fee for Motta renewal

Atlético Madrid midfielder and former Barcelona player Thiago Motta (25) announced at a press conference yesterday that he has reached a principal agreement with his club to renew for one more year, in which the Brazilian will only get paid if he plays: "We have talked and the renewal now only depends on a little issue with Barcelona."

Catalans sport paper Sport reports that Barcelona let youth product Motta leave for free last summer, but only under the condition that it would receive one million euro° if Motta's one-year contract with Atlético would be renewed in 2008 (note - last year it was generally believed that Atlético had paid one million euro for the transfer and that they had to pay another two million euro° in case of a renweal).

That fee now seems to be an obstacle for a renewal since Atlético does not want to pay it. And after some negative declarations of Motta in recent months about his time in Barcelona, directly attacking and accusing Barcelona president Joan Laporta and Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain, Barcelona would not be very willing to drop the fee.

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo nevertheless claims that Barcelona doesn't plan to play it hard and would already have decided not to demand the sum of 2 million euro.

Deal with Lahm

Madrid sports tabloid As claims that Barcelona has found an agreement with Bayern Munich full back defender Philipp Lahm (24). The deal with Barcelona would be the main reason why the renewal talks between Lahm and Bayern were cancelled earlier this week (read more here).

Lahm, who should replace current right back and italian international Gianluca Zambrotta (31), will sign a contract for four seasons but it's not yet clear if the German international will arrive this summer or only in 2009, when his contract with Bayern Munich expires. The date of arrival depends on the fact if Barcelona can agree with the German club on a transfer and the fee that has to be paid.

Read more:
No Bayern renewal for Lahm
Lahm will leave for Spain and England
Barcelona confirms Lahm interest

Zambrotta hasn't packed yet

Asked about the rumours linking the player with a summer move to AC Milan in the summer and the declarations of Milan vice president Adriano Galliani that his club has made an offer for Zambrotta and Ronaldinho, Barcelona right back defender Gianluca Zambrotta (31) has insisted in an interview with Italian television channel Sky Italia that he does not want to think about a transfer at this moment: "I have always said that I'm only thinking about Barcelona at this moment. Later we will see what will happen next season. Ronaldinho and I haven't packed our bags yet. We still have a semi final of the Champions League to play and a Liga to finish. At the end of the season we will have enough time to make a decision."

Read more:
Ignorant Zambrotta linked with Juventus
Zambrotta in Milan package deal
Zambrotta on Lippi shopping list

Thursday 24 April 2008

Barcelona offer for Bosnian youngster Pjanic

Fahrudin Pjanic, the father of Metz attacking midfielder Miralem Pjanic (18), has said in an interview with Bosnian newspaper Nezavisne Novine that Barcelona has contacted the French club on Tuesday willing to buy the player: "It's true, Barcelona made a formal offer for Miralem." Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Pjanic would not yet be seen as an option for the first team.

Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain watched Pjanic during a cup game last week and came back impressed (read more here), what could have made Barcelona decide to act quickly. According to his father, Pjanic would certainly consider a move to Barcelona: "Miralem is not afraid to play for Barcelona or another top club. He proved against Lyon that he can adapt to the level. Now it's up to the two clubs to find an agreement."

Metz president Carlo Molinari has already stated that the player could leave for 10 million euro°. And Fahrudin Pjanic says this price can even get higher: "The fee is not defined, this is like the minimun amount of money that has to be paid for him. Top clubs will probably need to pay even more." Lyon and Marseille would also be interested in the player (read more here).

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:
Barcelona will move for Pjanic
Pjanic wouldn't mind staying in France
Barcelona closely monitoring Pjanic

Premier League clubs back in for Ronaldinho

Now that the negotiations with Milan doesn't appear to be anywhere close to a conclusion, some interested English Premier League clubs could give it another go and try to transfer Barcelona playmaker Ronaldinho (28).

Manchester City
On Tuesday, British tabloid The Daily Telegraph claimed that Manchester City believes that they can successfully re-enter the race to sign Ronaldinho. Manchester City representatives would have met with Roberto de Assís, brother and agent of Ronaldinho, in Manchester (read more
here) and with Barcelona officials in Barcelona (read more here) earlier this month. Kia Joorabchian, the British-Iranian representative of Manchester United forward Carlos Tévez and Liverpool defensive midfielder Javier Mascherano, is said to be possibly involved in the negotiations.

British tabloid The Daily Mirror says that Manchester City president Thaksin Shinawatra has hired player's agent Pini Zahavi hoping he can broker a deal thanks to his close relationship with Barcelona president Joan Laporta. Manchester City manager Sven-Göran Eriksson, also a close friend of Zahavi, would have given his approval to the transfer, although British newspaper The Independent says that Ronaldinho would not be a priority of the manager.

With Zahavi flying back to England in the next hours with a report, there could be an announcement in the coming days. Manchester City owner Shinawatra will be for the first time in months in Manchester this weekend and meet with Eriksson to discuss the coming transfer summer.

Talks were already confirmed last weekend by Manchester City executive director Taweesuk Jack Srisumrid (read more
here). The club wants to become the biggest English club in East Asia and Ronaldinho's status could give a boost in that direction and at the same time get more people to the stadium. Manchester City would hope to sign the Brazilian for only 9 million euro° with Barcelona happy to get his salary off the books. Ronaldinho would be offered a week salary of 190 000 euro° or even a part of the ticket sales and the merchandising.

British tabloid The Daily Mirror claims today that Roberto has been offering his brother around the Premier League and that Tottenham was one of the clubs taking the offer seriously.
The club is considering a bid and a Tottenham official flew to Spain to meet with Ronaldinho representatives recently. Ronaldinho would be a huge transfer coup for Tottenham and guarantee them lucrative marketing and publicity spin-offs. Manager Juande Ramos would like to sign the player.

Italian newspaper La Repubblica claimed on Wednesday that also Chelsea would have rejoined the race for Ronaldinho (read more
here and here). AC Milan adviser Ernesto Bronzetti indeed told Italian television channel RAI Sport last weekend that Chelsea is one of the main clubs to go after the Brazilian: "Few clubs can afford Ronaldinho. Milan and Chelsea are the two clubs who are insisting the most for a transfer. But Ronaldinho doesn't really like English football."

Read more:
Manchester City serious about Ronaldinho
Ronaldinho agent met with Chelsea
Ronaldinho used Manchester City

Bayern didn't speak its last word on Lahm

Despite the club withdrawing a renewal offer earlier this week (read more here), Bayern Munich president Franz Beckenbauer has said in an interview with German television channel Premiere that no final decision has been made on the future of Bayern Munich full back Philipp Lahm (24) and that he still hopes the German international can stay at the club: "Lahm has made an offer, which in the opinion of the Bayern board was a little high. But it would be great if he nevertheless could stay. He is a Bayern boy, who fits in very well here and who has proved to be a world class player."

The contract of Lahm, who is a serious option to replace Barcelona right back Gianluca Zambrotta (31) in the summer, expires in 2009 and the player has declared that he would like to leave for a European top club (read more here). Beckenbauer acknowledges that Lahm couldn't be blamed if he would accept a big offer from a European top club and move abroad.

Read more:
Lahm will leave for Spain or England
No Bayern renewal for Lahm
Alves doesn't exclude Lahm

Modric talking about Spain but on his way to England

British tabloid The Sun claims that Dinamo Zagreb midfielder Luka Modric (22) is close to signing for Newcastle United. Dinamo Zagreb vice president Zdravko Mamic would have met on Tuesday with Newcastle officials, including executive director of football Dennis Wise, in a hotel in Newcastle. Modric would join Newcastle after Euro 2008 and has already hosted a farewell dinner party with his team-mates. Newcastle would pay Zagreb 15 million euro° for the Croatian international.

A person from the entourage of Modric, who is also on the Barcelona list and who is said to prefer to sign for the Catalan club (read more here), suggests that one of his compatriots advised Modric not to join Barcelona but to come to the Premier League and is quoted as saying: "Mamic came back to Croatia and insisted that Luka is close to moving to Newcastle. He always talked about Spain but Portsmouth’s Croatian star Niko Kranjcar has told him to move to England. The money Newcastle are offering is fantastic."

Read more:
Modric against his will close to Premier League
The search of Txiki: Midfield
Modric approved

Rijkaard wants to finish Barcelona job

Asked about the rumours linking him with a summer move to Chelsea (read more here), Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard (45) said in an interview with British newspaper The Independent that he didn't even consider the option yet: "I'm not someone who makes plans. If I work somewhere then I am not thinking about other things. First, I finish the job here."

Read more:
Chelsea wants Rijkaard
Rijkaard brother denies Chelsea
Rijkaard feels used by Ten Cate

Ex-Barça: José Mari Bakero dismissed by Valencia

Ronald Koeman was not the only member of the Valencia technical staff with a Barcelona history who was dismissed on Monday (read more here). Koeman's assistants Tonny Bruins Slot (61), former assistant of Johan Cruijff, and José Mari Bakero (45), former Barcelona player and assistant, also had to leave together with the head coach.

José Mari Bakero played nine seasons for FC Barcelona, arriving from Real Sociedad in the summer of 1988 and leaving in the summer of 1997 for the Mexican team Veracruz. During that period the Basque midfielder won an impressive number of trophies: four consecutive Spanish league titles between 1991 and 1994, two Spanish cups in 1990 and 1997, four Spanish Super cups in 1991, 1992, 1994 and 1996, one Champions League in 1992, two European Cup Winners' cups in 1989 and 1997 and one European Super cup in 1992.

Read more:
Ex-Barça: Romario
Ex-Barça: Ronald de Boer
Ex-Barça: Ruud Hesp

Ben Arfa could be left wing back-up

Barcelona sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain is still closely monitoring the situation of Olympique Lyon left wing attacker Hatem Ben Arfa (21).

The French international is both on and off the pitch uncomfortable in Lyon due to his bad relation with Olympique Lyon manager Alain Perrin and has announced that he will leave the French champion in the summer. Ben Arfa is believed to be able to add something to the Barcelona squad, but he would not be seen as a sure regular.

Begiristain already tried to transfer Ben Arfa three years ago, but although he could stay with Lyon on loan, the player didn't accept the offer (read more here). And when the loan deal on Barcelona midfielder Marc Crosas was signed last January (read more here), Begiristain asked to include an option to buy Ben Arfa in the contract, something that was rejected by Lyon.

Read more:
Transfer history: Ben Arfa (Lyon)
Lyon wants to buy Crosas
Transfer period analysis: Winter 2008

Wednesday 23 April 2008

Principal agreement with Mourinho

Catalan sports weekly paper Gol claims that Barcelona is still in permanent contact with former Chelsea manager José Mourinho (45) and that the club even could already have signed a principal agreement with the coach three weeks ago. The deal will not be announced before the end of Barcelona's Champions League campaign. Former Barcelona player Luis Enrique (37) would become the assistant of the Portuguese (read more here).

In recent months, the Mourinho option has been strongly pushed by Barcelona economic vice president Ferran Soriano and Barcelona sports vice president Marc Ingla, who came back very impressed after a meeting with Mourinho in Portugal in late January, where the Portuguese explained his way of working. Both vice presidents are convinced that there is no better candidate to replace current Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard (45) as of next season.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta would be ready to surrender and sign Mourinho (read more here), knowing he cannot make any more mistakes if he wants to leave on a high in 2010 and helped by the declarations of Mourinho that his way of playing is flexible and that the system can be adapted to the tradition of a club like Barcelona.

Read more:
Mourinho preparing to take over
The board vote goes to Mourinho
Guardiola takes Mourinho's pole

Lahm will leave for Spain or England

Bayern Munich full back defender Philipp Lahm (24), whose contract renewal talks with the German club were cancelled yesterday (read more here), has said in an interview with German weekly news magazine Stern that he wants to leave Bayern and that this could well happen this summer: "I will not change my decision: my career plan indicates that I will leave Bayern at some point and not when I already have passed my peak." The German international motivates his decision to leave Germany by saying he wants to win the Champions League.

Lahm, whose contract expires in 2009 and who has been strongly linked with a move to Barcelona (read more here), says the next logical step is now to go abroad and hints that he could go to England or Spain: "In both countries I have the chance to play in a great club."

Read more:
No Bayern renewal for Lahm
Lahm battle coming
Wanted: Right back

Youth: Felipe Coutinho (Vasco da Gama)

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona is interested in Vasco da Gama attacking midfielder Felipe Coutinho (15), who is also followed by the other Spanish top clubs. Coutinho was one of the key players from the Brazilian team that won the South American U-15 championship in November last year.

Although Vasco da Gama has been trying to tie down the Brazilian youth international, his family is aware of the interest of several clubs and would have decided to make the move to Europe in the summer. Coutinho's father and brother are acting as his agents and are monitoring the offers coming in from European clubs.

Read more:
Youth: Erick Flores (Flamengo)
Youth: Gai Assulin
Youth: Diego Polenta (Danubio)

Gudjohnsen has many offers

Asked about his plans for the future, Barcelona attacker and Iceland international Eidur Gudjohnsen (29) has said in an interview with Catalan sports paper Sport that he will think about it when the season ends: "I have two years of contract left and at this moment I prefer to concentrate on the last games of the year. At the end of the season, we will see what happens. A lot of clubs have called me, but I always say to them that I don't want to hear anything about a transfer yet. It's a big decision as I also have to take into account the situation of my family."

Read more:
Newcastle interested in Gudjohnsen
Who could go?
Gudjohnsen not thinking about leaving

Transfer history: Piqué

Manchester United central defender Gerard Piqué (21) has explained in an interview with Catalan sports paper Sport why he left the Barcelona youth academy in the summer of 2004:

"I was playing with Barcelona B in the Spanish third division. Manchester United came to find me and, like some others, I thought that if I would stay, I would spend the next years in the third division. The first team just seemed so far away at that moment."

Read more:
Piqué tempted by Barcelona return
Transfer history: Alex Ferguson (Manchester United)
Transfer history: Cesc

Eto'o insists on the need to win trophies

Barcelona forward Samuel Eto'o (27) has told in an interview with Spanish radio station Cadena Ser that he did not threat to leave on Sunday (read more here), but nevertheless insisted that it will be difficult to continue without a trophy in the next twelve months: "My statement was not a threat, just the reality of a club in which the players have responsibilities. If we do not win the Champions League this year and we don't win anything next season either, that would make three years without winning one single trophy. A club like Barcelona cannot allow that. So what I said is that I wouldn't feel comfortable anymore, I could not stay and face the fans."

Eto'o added that when he leaves Barcelona, it will be for a foreign club and he only would return to Spain to play for his former club Mallorca.

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo meanwhile reports that the Barcelona board was not amused with the declarations of the Cameroonian international days before the important Champions League game against Manchester United, just when the club is trying to get all the fans behind the team. Eto'o is said to have set his personal interests above the team interests.

Read more:
Without trophies, Eto'o will leave

Tuesday 22 April 2008

No Bayern renewal for Lahm

German club Bayern Munich has announced in a statement on its official website that the talks with Bayern Munich full back Philipp Lahm (24) to renew the player's contract that expires in 2009 have been stopped because the parties could not come to an agreement.

Bayern Munich says that it has cancelled the renewal offer they had previously made to the German international and that Lahm can now leave on a free transfer when the contract ends next year. Philipp Lahm has over the last months several times been rumoured to be one of the main options to replace Barcelona right back defender Gianluca Zambrotta (31), who will most probably return to Italy.

Read more:
Lahm close to Bayern renewal
Alves doesn't exclude Lahm
Barcelona confirms Lahm interest

Lyon wants to buy Crosas

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that French champion Olympique Lyon has contacted Barcelona to inform the club that they would like to sign Olympique Lyon midfielder and Barcelona loan out Marc Crosas (20) on a permanent deal.

Although the Catalan midfielder isn't playing all that much, the Lyon technical staff thinks that the player is making good progress and that he could be a interesting signing in the summer. In January, Crosas was loaned out until the end of the season and has declared several times in the last weeks that he wouldn't mind staying with Lyon (read more here). Barcelona is looking at the offer and did not yet give Lyon a reply.

Read more:
Lyon good alternative for Crosas
Crosas prefers a new loan deal
Crosas wants to stay in Lyon

Bojan will accept renewal offer

Catalan sports papers El Mundo Deportivo and Sport claim that the renewal negotiations with Barcelona forward Bojan Krkic (17) are well underway and that an agreement is expected to be found soon. The new contract can nevertheless not be signed before the players turns 18 in late August (read more here).

The new contract will link Bojan to Barcelona for the next five seasons, until the year 2013. The player's year salary will be raised from 60 000 euros° (plus incentives for each game played) to 1,7 million euro° (plus incentives for 60% of the games played, for the qualification of the Champions League and for the trophies that are won). If the Spanish forward keeps making progress, it's expected that the two parties will sit again around the table before the end of the year (read more here).

The current buyout clause of 60 million euro° will in the renewed contract be adapted to the new status of the player and could come close to the 150 million euro° buyout clause of players like Messi, Eto'o or Ronaldinho. Although Chelsea has been (and keeps) pushing strong for the youngster, it's at this moment clear that Bojan doesn't have any plans of leaving Barcelona in the near future.

Read more:
Renewal offer for Bojan
Bojan renewal coming up
Txiki on Cesc and Bojan

Youth: Miralem Pjanic (Metz)

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that during the French cup game between Lyon and Metz last week, Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain was not only keeping an eye on Olympique Lyon forward Karim Benzema and Barcelona loan out Marc Crosas (read more here), but also on Metz attacking midfielder Miralem Pjanic (18),

Begiristain saw Pjanic, who was already before rumoured to be on the Barcelona agenda (read more here and here), play a very good game and Barcelona would now try to take an advantage on the other clubs interested in signing the midfielder.

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: Dani Aquino (Real Murcia)
Youth: Jonathan Dos Santos
Youth: Jozy Altidore (Red Bull New York)

First talks between Eto'o and Tottenham

Madrid sports tabloid As claims that Tottenham officials have met with the agents of Barcelona forward Samuel Eto'o (27) last week and that a new meeting in scheduled in London later this week.

With Tottenham striker Dimitar Berbatov wanting to leave in the summer, Eto'o should become the key player of the ambitious new project of Tottenham manager Juande Ramos. Tottenham president Daniel Levy would have given his authorization to start negotiations with Barcelona on the transfer fee. The Cameroonian international has a contract with Barcelona until 2010 and a buyout clause of 150 million euro°.

pep's opinion:
As trying to disturb Barcelona before the Champions League semi final

Read more:
Eto'o top target for Milan
Barcelona keeping an eye on Berbatov
Eto'o could be Fenerbahce star transfer

Ex-Barça: Ronald Koeman dismissed by Valencia

Former Barcelona central defender Ronald Koeman (45) has yesterday been relieved of his duties as first team coach of Spanish club Valencia with immediate effect. Despite winning the Spanish cup last week, the performances in the Spanish league made the position of Koeman impossible. With five games to play, Valencia is positioned only two points above the relegation zone.

In a brief statement, Koeman said that he left proud to have won the Copa but with an illusion less. The Dutchman joined Valencia in October of last year, arriving form Dutch champion PSV Eindhoven and replacing Quique Sánchez Flores.

Ronald Koeman played six seasons for Barcelona, arriving in 1989 from Dutch club PSV Eindhoven and leaving in the summer of 1995 for Dutch club Feyenoord Rotterdam. With Barcelona, Koeman won four consecutive Spanish league titles from 1991 to 1994, a Spanish cup in 1990, three Spanish Super Cups in 1991, 1992 and 1994, one European Super Cup in 1992 and one Champions Leauge in 1992, when he became a Barcelona legend scoring the winning free kick goal that gave Barcelona it's first European Champions Cup.

Read more:
Ex-Barça: Romario
Ex-Barça: Frank de Boer
Ex-Barça: Llorenç Serra Ferrer

Ignorant Zambrotta linked with Juventus

Asked about the strong rumours linking him with a summer move to AC Milan and the declarations of Milan vice president Adriano Galliani saying his club has made an offer for Ronaldinho and Zambrotta (read more here), Barcelona right back defender and Italian international Gianluca Zambrotta (31) did not want to comment on the issue in an interview with Catalan radio station Catalunya Ràdio: "I don't know what will happen next year. At this moment I'm focusing on Barça, giving the team everything I have, cause I would like to win something important with Barcelona."

Meanwhile, Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Zambrotta's former club Juventus would also be interested in a return of the player.

Read more:
Zambrotta in Milan package deal

Monday 21 April 2008

Luis Enrique ready for assistant job

Asked about the rumours linking him with a job as assistant coach of Josep Guardiola (read more here) or José Mourinho (read more here), if one of those two would become the next Barcelona manager, former Barcelona player Luis Enrique said last week in an interview with Catalan newspaper La Vanguardia that those are at this moment nothing more than rumours.

Luis Enrique nevertheless made clear that he wants to start his career as manager next season, and if he could do that with Barcelona, the better: "I would like to return to Barcelona, not simply to pose but to really add something to the team. But until they don't offer me something, I don't want to think about it too much."

Although he lacks experience, the Spaniard doesn't think he is not ready for the job: "It wouldn't scare me at all to make my début in the Primera División. I think I'm capable for the job and I want to start as soon as possible. Of course I don't yet have experience as coach, but I know the dressing room inside out."

The former Barcelona right winger thinks he would make a good duo with his ex-team mate Josep Guardiola: "He's a friend with whom I have shared a lot of time and many tough games."

Luis Enrique also repeated (read more here) that he would like to work with José Mourinho, who he knows from his time in Barcelona: "Name me one coach in the world who wouldn't like to work with José Mourinho, even without knowing him. And I do know him and have a good understanding with him."

Read more:
Luis Enrique would like to return
Mourinho preparing to take over
Luis Enrique did not send his cv

Which Milan for Deco?

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Barcelona midfielder Deco (30), who was disappointed on Saturday cause he did not play one minute against Espanyol but was calmed down the day after by assistant coach Johan Neeskens, will probably not continue in Barcelona next season.

In the next summer transfer window the Brazilian born Portuguese international is most likely to move to Italy and to join one of the two top clubs from Milan. If former Chelsea manager José Mourinho, who was Deco's coach with Porto, becomes the new Inter Milan manager, the midfielder would prefer to go to Inter and be reunited with his old coach. If that condition is not met, Deco would sign for AC Milan.

Asked about the rumours linking several players with a summer exit, Deco said today at a press conference that this is normal when a team is not playing well and not winning trophies: "But this not the time to talk about transfers. This is going on for the whole season now and I think it's all a bit weird."

Read more:
Milan also wants Deco
Inter and Juventus rival for Deco
Deco could be new Bayern star transfer

Transfer history: Gudjohnsen

Barcelona attacker and Iceland international Eidur Gudjohnsen (29) has admitted in an interview with Catalan sports paper Sport that Manchester United tried to transfer him when he was playing with Chelsea:

"It's true that before I came to Barcelona, Manchester United was interested in signing me on a couple of occasions. It's a great honour that manager Ferguson wanted me because he's a living football legend, a special person who has done incredible things. Chelsea didn't really wanted to let me go to a direct rival in the first place and when they told me that Barcelona were interested in a transfer, they were always my first option."

Eidur Gudjohnsen played for Chelsea between 2000 and 2006. The player joined Barcelona in the summer of 2006 for a transfer fee of 12 million euro°.

Read more:
Transfer history: Alex Ferguson
Newcastle interested in Gudjohnsen
Transfer history: Trezeguet

Getafe right back looked at

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona is interested in Getafe right back defender David Cortés (28). Cortés has been scouted by several Barcelona coaches during the last months and could leave his club for only 3 million euro°.

Although Sevilla defender and Brazilian international Daniel Alves (24) is the absolute favourite to replace current Barcelona right back Gianluca Zambrotta (31), who will probably return to Italy at the end of the season, the asking price of more than 30 million euro° obliges Barcelona to look at other options. The Barcelona technical staff would prefer to use that money to buy a top class midfielder or striker.

Read more:
Deal with Sevilla on Alves
Milan close to signing Zambrotta
Alves repeats exit wish

Decision on Rijkaard in May

Barcelona economic vice president Ferran Soriano, who says the club is now focusing on the Champions League, couldn't confirm in an interview with British radio station BBC Radio 5 Live that Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard (45) will still be in charge next season: "You can never say 100% that he will stay because at the end of the season we're going to review the performances of the players and coach. We've been with him for five years and he has been doing an extremely good job. We like the way he works, his personal style and the way he represents the club. Obviously the fact we are not getting the results in the domestic league is the fault of everybody including us and including him but we are very happy with Frank Rijkaard."

Asked about the rumours linking the Dutch manager with English top club Chelsea (read more here and here), vice president Soriano said that he can't see that happen at this stage: "I think he has no plan to leave Barcelona and go to Chelsea."

Read more:
Rijkaard brother denies Chelsea
Barcelona president wants to retire with Rijkaard
Rijkaard candidate for Mexico

Marquez future uncertain

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that the Barcelona technical staff still has not taken a decision on the continuation of Barcelona central defender and Mexican international Rafael Márquez (29) and doesn't even have an idea on the issue at this moment.

Because a lot of experienced players of the current squad will surely leave, Barcelona wants to wait until the end of the season an see how the player performs in the last games of the season.

Read more:
Milan also wants Marquez
Marquez wants to stay
Rijkaard prefers Marquez over Garay

Sunday 20 April 2008

Without trophies Eto'o will leave

During a promotional act for a brand of cars, Barcelona forward and Cameroon international Samuel Eto'o (27) said in an interview with Catalan radio station RAC 1 that he will leave for a foreign club if the situation at Barcelona doesn't change next season: "In Barcelona and in Spain I have reached my ceiling. If there doesn't change something next year and we don't win any trophy, I will have to leave because I want to win titles. And if I cannot do that here, it will be in another club."

British tabloid The Sun claims that this announcement could lead English top club Chelsea, who has been interested in the Cameroonian for several years now, to prepare a new offer in the summer.

pep's opinion:
again not the best timing...

Read more:
Eto'o top target for Milan
Eto'o could be Fenerbahçe star transfer
Transfer history: Eto'o

Henry wants to return to England

British tabloid News of the World claims that Barcelona forward Thierry Henry (30) has told Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard that he wants to leave the club at the end of the season. The French international has cited personal problems as the reason he wants to return to England. Henry wants to spend more time with his daughter Téa who is living with Henry's former wife Claire Merry in London. Barcelona would be ready to listen to proposals coming in.

The tabloid says it's nevertheless unlikely that Henry would return to his old club Arsenal since Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger would not want him back. Wenger allowed Henry to leave last summer because he felt that his compatriot had started to undermine his authority as manager and that he complicated the development of some emerging young players.

Chelsea would be the favourite to sign the Frenchman (read more here). Manchester City and Newcastle United would both also be interested in signing Henry and would even be ready to allow the player to commute from a London base.

Asked about the rumours of a summer return to England of Thierry Henry, Barcelona economic vice president Ferran Soriano told British radio station BBC Radio 5 Live that the French forward doesn't miss the Premier League and will remain with Barcelona next season: "I spoke with him a week ago and he is happy. We are not doing well in the domestic championship, but he is fine and I'm sure he is not coming back to the UK."

Read more:
Premier League clubs circling around Henry
Inter wants Henry on loan
Exchange between Henry and American youngster

Transfer history: Ferguson (Manchester United)

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has told in an interview with British tabloid The Sunday Express that he was close to joining Barcelona back in 1986 when he was coaching Scottish club Aberdeen:

"I was interviewed for the Barcelona job when I was at Aberdeen. Terry Venables was in charge at the time but he was going to leave. He had recommended me and I met the Barcelona president in the Connaught Hotel London. Terry ended up staying and I always wonder what would have happened if he hadn't changed his mind. Barcelona actually kept in touch and even phoned to ask my opinion on Uruguayan playmaker Enzo Francescoli. I have never been tempted since. I have all the fulfillment I need with Manchester United. Anyway, it's difficult to say whether my methods would have worked in another country."

Sir Alex Ferguson (66) was the manager of Aberdeen from 1978 until 1986. He joined Manchester United in November 1986.

Terry Venables (65) arrived in Barcelona from English club Queens Park Rangers in the summer of 1984, replacing the Argentinian César Luis Menotti. Under Venables, Barcelona won one Spanish league title in 1985 and a League cup in 1986. In May of 1986, Barcelona lost the European Cup final to Steaua Bucarest on penalties. Venables was discharged in November 1987 and replaced by Luis Aragonés.

Read more:
Transfer history: Zidane and Henry
Transfer history: Cesc
Transfer history: Edu (Valencia)

Read all transfer history stories here.

Ronnie's week --- 3. Barcelona - Milan

While last week a deal seemed close, this week's events, which this blog brings to you in three parts, lead to think that the transfer of Barcelona playmaker Ronaldinho (28) to Milan will not be agreed upon between all parties shortly.

1. Milan - Ronaldinho
(this part was published on Friday, you can read it here)

2. Ronaldinho - Barcelona
(this part was published yesterday, you can read it here)

3. Barcelona - Milan
A lot of false alarms this week. Milan vice president Adriano Galliani was several times announced to arive in Barcelona shortly but in the end a meeting between Galliani and Barcelona president Joan Laporta or other Barcelona board members didn't take place. Milan adviser Ernesto Bronzetti said on Friday to Italian television channel Rai Due that Galliani will meet with Laporta next week.

Barcelona and Milan officials nevertheless kept talking over the phone and by mail all along the week about the transfer of Barcelona playmaker Ronaldinho (28). And Bronzetti met yesterday in person with Barcelona vice presidents Ferran Soriano and Marc Ingla in Barcelona.

Barcelona is taking the whole process with extreme care. Since the issue was discussed during a board meeting last month (read more here), very few officials pronounced on Ronaldinho, if it isn't to say that he's still a player of Barcelona and that the club hopes he'll recover soon from his injury.

Barcelona board member and spokesman Alfons Godall even denied on Wednesday that Barcelona was negotiating with Milan. Communications director Jordi Badia nevertheless admitted that Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain had met with Bronzetti the week before (read more here), but "only to listen to what the Italian had to say and nothing more". Begiristain himself yesterday didn't want to comment on Ronaldinho's future either: "There are several clubs interested. But I won't be the one who talks about the contacts with other clubs."

It is believed that Barcelona doesn't want to hurry things, mainly cause of two reasons.

- First, Barcelona wants to concentrate fully on the Champions League and an official announcement of a deal with Milan could disturb the preparation.

A final agreement shouldn't therefore be expected before the end of Barceona's Champions League campaign, and certainly not before the return game of the semi finals against Manchester United. Madrid sports tabloid As claims that a deel has already been found but that the club agreed not to announce anything as long as Barcelona is involved in the Champions League.

- Secondly, Milan is not offering a transfer price that is considered acceptable by Barcelona, who doesn't plan to drop the initial asking price of 30 million euro°. Catalan sports paper Sport even claims that Barcelona wants to include several extra incentives in the contract, based on matches played, goals scored and trophies won.

Milan doesn't want to pay more than 20 million euro° and still doesn't exclude to use Article 17 of the FIFA Transfer Regulations, allowing Ronaldinho to leave for only 16 million euro°. Although teams like Inter Milan and Manchester City are offering a higher transfer fee, Barcelona cannot use that argument to pressure Milan since Ronaldinho has made clear he only wants to play for Milan. To prove that once again, Ernesto Bronzetti went to dinner with Roberto de Assís, the brother and agent of Ronaldinho, after assisting the Espanyol game yesterday.

Because Milan is getting nevertheless somewhat nervous after the latest rumours about a new Inter-Nike push for the Brazilian, the club would be ready to move and Bronzetti would have offered yesterday to pay 30 million euro° for both Ronaldinho and Barcelona right back defender Gianluca Zambrotta (31) (read more here). Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport, who put this forward, says that new talks between Bronzetti and Barcelona officials were scheduled today. Roberto would like to close the deal soon since he's returning to Brazil in a few days.

This evening, Milan vice president Galliani confirmed that his club had made an offer for both players but said that an agreement shouldn't be expected soon cause there's still a serious difference between the positions of both clubs: "'Yes, we went to Barcelona and we talked about Ronaldinho and Zambrotta. But at this moment, the parties are far apart: Milan will never pay for the Brazilian what Barcelona is asking. Their price is out of the market. But we have time, the transfer window closes at the end of August."

Milan considering new Puyol bid

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Italian top club AC Milan is still interested in Barcelona central defender and Spanish international Carles Puyol (30) and could launch a new bid in the summer. The Barcelona captain has been in the Milan agenda for many years but until now Puyol and Barcelona have rejected all offers from the Italians.

Given his age, this could be the last opportunity for Puyol to leave Barcelona and move to a foreign top club. The Catalan defender has declared several times in the past that Milan would be the club he'd prefer to go to if he had to leave Barcelona.

Read more:
Transfer history: Puyol
Milan also wants Marquez and Deco
Ronaldinho agrees terms with Milan

Crosas goes French / 21

Olympique Lyon won yesterday with 1-2 against Strasbourg. On top of the French Ligue 1, Lyon has now a seven point lead on second placed Bordeaux, who can reduce the gap to four points later today. Barcelona loan out Marc Crosas (20) started on the bench and stayed there for 90 minutes.

(read more on Crosas in Lyon here)

Modric against his will close to Premier League

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Barcelona is postponing the decision to make a formal offer for Dinamo Zagreb midfielder Luka Modric (22). And although the Croatian international still prefers a transfer to Barcelona, his club is pushing him more and more to find a deal with an English club.

Cause while Dinamo Zagreb initially had planned to wait until after Euro 2008 to make a decision, trying to organize some kind of a bidding race, the interesting offers and the pressure from English Premier League clubs like Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool and Arsenal have made Dinamo Zagreb vice president Zdravko Mamic wanting to find an agreement in the coming days. Next week the transfer of Modric to a Premier League club could be announced.

Read more:
Barcelona or England for Modric
The search of Txiki: Midfield
All eyes on Modric

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