Saturday 17 May 2008

Next season's squad

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo makes today a global analysis of how the squad could look like next season. For what it's worth (but don't we all love these kinds of lists...) they come approximately to this scheme, with the regular in bold and the back-up between brackets:

Valdés (Aouate or Neuer or Alves or Frey or...)

Alves (Oleguer)
Puyol (Piqué)
Milito or Márquez (Coloccini or Chivu)
Abidal (Sylvinho)

Touré (Márquez)
Xavi (Mancini - Hleb)
Keita (Mancini - Víctor Sánchez)

Messi (Hleb)
Benzema or Adebayor (Bojan)
Iniesta or Silva (Henry)

Eusebio has offer from Almeria

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona assistant coach Eusebio Sácristan (44), who will leave the club together with manager Frank Rijkaard (read more here), has received an offer to become the new head coach of Primera División team Almería.

Former Barcelona player (1988-1995) and former Spanish international Eusebio has been Rijkaard's second assistant over the last five years. Eusebio said yesterday at a press conference that he feels ready for a new challenge and thanked Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain for the opporunity he had given him five years ago: "It has been a privilege working with the whole technical team, especially since they gave me a real chance although I was starting from scratch."

Read more:

Pique undergoes medical tests

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Manchester United central defender Gerard Piqué (21) underwent a medical check-up in Barcelona yesterday morning.

An agreement between Barcelona and Piqué has been reached (read more here) and the deal with Manchester will soon be finalized, although the negotiations has been cancelled to not disturb the preparation of the club for the Champions League final on Wednesday. Barcelona would want to present Piqué soon after the final.

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona is preparing a bid of 8 million euro° for Piqué, whose contract with the English champions expires next year. Barcelona sports vice president Marc Ingla and Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain will travel to Moscow this week and could there hold new and final talks with Manchester United officials.

Madrid sports tabloid As claims that there is a basic agreement that has been negotiated between Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain and Arturo Canales, the agent of the player and representative of sports marketing agency IMG that represnts the player since he was fifteen years old. Piqué would have rejected an offer from Juventus that was financially more interesting for him. A person from his entourage is quoted as saying: "He would swim back to Barcelona."

Piqué is the grandson of Amador Bernabéu, who was a Barcelona board member for twenty years (and even vice-president for a while) under presidents Josep Lluís Núñez and Joan Gaspart. Bernabéu said earlier this week in an interview with Catalan radio station Ona FM that Piqué is delighted to be linked with Barcelona: "Gerard will always give priority to Barcelona. His dream is to return. And he deserves it, as a person and as a player. He learned a lot since he left in 2004. And while playing on loan at Zaragoza he showed what he's capable of, he made a great pair with Milito that season."

Read more:

Zambrotta doesn't exclude Juventus return

Asked if a return to his former club Juventus is possible, Barcelona full back defender and Italian international Gianluca Zambrotta (31), who admits he has been missing his homecountry over the past two years, has left the option open in an interview with Italian football monthly magazine Calcio 2000: "In Turin I have lived an incredible period of my career. I meet so many Juventus fans who ask me to come back and who still like me. But I also respect the opinion of those who are opposed to a return."

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that, besides Juventus and AC Milan (read more here), Inter Milan is also interested in the Italian defender.

Read more:

Euro 2008: Spain squad

Spanish national team coach and former Barcelona manager (1987-1988) Luis Aragonés (69) has named his squad for Euro 2008.

Barcelona central defender Carles Puyol (30), Barcelona midfielders Xavi (28) and Andrés Iniesta (24) and ex-Barcelona players Cesc Fàbregas (21 - Arsenal - cantera until 2003), José Reina (25 - Liverpool - cantera plus 2000-2002), Fernando Navarro (25 - Mallorca - cantera plus 2002-2005 picture), Dani Güiza (28 - Mallorca - cantera in 2003) and Sergio García (24 - Zaragoza - cantera plus 2003-2004) are included in the list.

Spain, who were drawn into Group D along with Russia, Sweden and Greece, will play their first match of the tournament on the 10th June, against Russia.

Look for the Barcelona links in the squads of Portugal and Sweden.

(Barça Transfer Zone will follow the performances of the Barcelona players at the Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland)

Keita to replace Deco

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Barcelona has found a personal agreement with Sevilla central midfielder and Mali international Seydou Keita (28), who is now said to be the one who should replace Barcelona midfielder Deco (30) (read more here).

Barcelona has been following the player, who joined Sevilla last summer, since he played with Lens in the French league. Future Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola would have picked Keita as one of the first players (together with Sevilla right back defender Daniel Alves) out of a list with possible transfer targets that was presented to him by Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain.

Catalan sports paper Sport says that Sevilla president José María del Nido and Sevilla sports director Monchi will meet on Monday with Pascal Boisseau, the agent of Keita, to discuss the situation of the player whose contract expires in 2010. It is expected that Sevilla will offer the player a renewal.

There now seems to be some uncertainty about the buyout clause of Keita. While it was initially believed that the fee was 14 or 15 million euro° (read more here), Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo reported that Sevilla claims that the buyout fee is 30 million euro°. Madrid sports tabloid Marca states that Barcelona has already made a first bid of 10 million euro° for the Malian midfielder, for whom Sevilla paid 4 million euro° one year ago.

Earlier this week it was rumoured that Barcelona could try to include Sevilla team-mates Keita and Alves in one single deal. Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona plans to offer 40 million euro° for the two players. Madrid sports tabloid Marca claims that Barcelona would be ready to pay 35 million euro° for the two while Sevilla wants to receive 45 million euro° for their two key players.

Read more here:

Goodbye gift for Rijkaard

The Catalan press yesterday handed Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard, who will leave the club after five seasons, a goodbye gift: a shirt with the phrase "Mai fumaràs sol", which is Catalan for "You'll never smoke alone". Rijkaard, who was known to be a chain smoker, thanked them for the gesture but added that he had quit smoking since a few days.

Edmilson close to Villareal

Barcelona defensive midfielder José Edmílson (31) passed a medical in Valencia yesterday and is close to signing for Primera División team Villareal (read more here).

Barcelona has let the Brazilian player, whose contract expires in June, know that he won't be offered a renewal and has given him the permission to negotiate with other teams.

It is expected that Edmílson will be officially presented as Villareal transfer in the coming days and that he will sign a contract for two years. Catalan sports paper Sport claims that the duration is the last obstacle in the negotiations and could be changed in one year plus an option for a second year depending on the number of matches played next season.

Read more:
Edmilson on his way to Villareal
How things stand: Defensive midfielder
Edmilson on Besiktas list

Materazzi to lead Barcelona defence

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona is interested in inter Milan central defender and Italian international Marco Materazzi (34) (read more here).

New Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola is looking for a strong and experienced leader at the back and Materazzi would fit that profile. Barcelona midfielder Deco (30) and Giovani dos Santos (19) could be included in the operation.

pep's opinion:
sport is recycling here an old rumour

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Friday 16 May 2008

Case closed: Lahm

Bayern Munich full back defender and German international Philipp Lahm (24) will not play for Barcelona as of next season, like had been rumoured over the last months (read more here).

Although the renewal negotiations with his current club were stopped last month (read more here), Bayern Munich announced today on its official website that the player, whose contract expires at 2009, has signed a contract renewal until 2012.

Lahm says that he changed his mind after talks with Bayern directors and future Bayern Munich manager Jürgen Klinsmann: "The team will be further strengthened, so that we can play an important role in the Champions League. My ultimate goal is to win the Champions League with Bayern."

Philipp Lahm was considered to be the back-up candidate to replace Gianluca Zambrotta at the right back position in case the deal with Sevilla right back defender Daniel Alves wouldn't go through (read more here). Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo even claimed earlier this week that Lahm had a verbal five-year deal with Barcelona, starting this or next summer.

Read more:
Deal with Lahm
Case closed: Modric
How things stand: right back defender

Read the whole Lahm-Barcelona story here

Arsenal considering Thuram offer

British tabloid The Daily Star claims that Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger wants to sign Barcelona central defender and French international Lilian Thuram (36) (read more here).

The contract of Thuram expires in June and the defender won't be offered a renewal so he can leave Barcelona on a free transfer. Wenger would be ready to offer the experienced defender a one-year deal.

Read more:
Possible Thuram-Wenger reunion
Thuram wants to keep on playing
Thuram to sell energy drinks

Guardiola yet to sign his contract

Although Barcelona president Joan Laporta announced the appointment of current Barcelona B manager Josep Guardiola (37) as new Barcelona manager at a press confrence last week, the renewed contract has not yet been signed.

On Wednesday, Barcelona sports vice president Marc Ingla and Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain met with Josep María Orobitg, the agent of the former Barcelona captain, to discuss the matter. Catalan radio station Ona FM claims that it has been agreed that Guardiola will sign a two-year deal.

Madrid sports tabloid AS claims that the negotiations now mainly concern the salary of the new manager. Guardiola thinks he should be paid taking into account the new responsibility he is being given and the pressure the job brings along. A new meeting is scheduled in the days to come.

Read more:

New Milan offer for Ronaldinho

Catalan radio station Ona FM claimed yesterday that AC Milan will launch a new bid for Barcelona playmaker Ronaldinho (28) next week. The offer would be between 25 and 30 million euro°.

Catalan sports paper Sport claims today that AC Milan has put an ultimate offer of 25 million euro on the table. Although Manchester City is offering 40 million euro°, Barcelona would be willing to accept the Milan offer since Ronaldinho has made clear he'll only leave for the Italian club. The only other option for the Brazilian is to stay in Barcelona until his contract expires in 2010.

Despite several statements by high-ranked Milan officials over the last couple of weeks saying that they were not interested in the player anymore, the negotiations on Ronaldinho have been going on and an agreement could be found soon. The offer of 25 million euro has already been formalized by fax. Talks will continue in the coming days and Milan president Adriano Galliani could travel to Barcelona next week to close the deal.

Ronaldinho would already have agreed terms with Milan (read more here) and would receive in the next four seasons a salary of 9 million euro° net a year, which should compensate for the income loss caused by the transfer. Madrid sports tabloid As claimed last week that Ronaldinho is now receiving 3 million euro° a year from sportswear supplier Nike. This would drop to only 0,5 million euro° a year if he joins a team that is not sponsored by the American company.

Read more:

Barcelona still in the running for Pjanic

French newspaper Le Parisien claimed yesterday that Metz attacking midfielder Miralem Pjanic (18), who is being followed by Barcelona (read more here), would sign in the coming days a five-year deal with French champions Olympique Lyon, who would pay Metz a transfer fee of around 7 million euro°.

The agent of the Bosnian player, former West-Germany international Karlheinz Förster, nevertheless denied the report in an interview with Italian football site Calcio Mercato: "Today the boy has received a formal offer from Lyon and from three Spanish clubs. No club has a clear advantage, although Miralem has said to me that for him it would probably be easier to stay in France (read more here)."

Read more:
Barcelona offer for Bosnian youngster Pjanic
Barcelona will move for Pjanic
Barcelona closely monitoring Pjanic

Rijkaard wanted all over the world

The agent of Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard (45), Perry Overeem, has said in an interview with Dutch football weekly paper Voetbal International that the interest in Rijkaard is starting to grow: "The interested parties come from all corners of the world. At this stage, we're just getting inquiries. We didn't receive any formal offers yet."

Asked about the rumours linking the Dutchman with the national teams of Ghana and Mexico (read more here), Overeem said: "I don't know anything about the interest from African countries, but there has indeed been a contact with Central America. Also from Asia we have been sounded out."

The agent doesn't know where Rijkaard will end up next season and suggests he could well take a break: "We're dealing with all the interest in a passive way. Frank still has a contract with Barcelona until the end of June and after five season at Barcelona, he doesn't yet have a concrete idea about his near future. The chances are that he'll take some months of before he starts something new."

Read more:

New names on central defenders list

Catalan sports paper Sport reports that Barcelona is intensely looking for central defenders and claims that the club is also following Getafe central defender Daniel "Cata" Díaz (28) (picture). The Argentinian player, who arrived at Getafe last summer, would cost 8 million euro°.

Fenerbahçe's Brazilian central defender Edu Dracena (26) is mentioned as being another candidate on the (long) list.

Read more:
Looking for a central defender
How things stand: central defenders
Bruno Alves new name on central defender list

Thursday 15 May 2008

Deco announces his exit

During a promotional act for a brand of sportswear, Barcelona midfielder and Portuguese international Deco (30) has announced that he will leave Barcelona this summer because the club has suggested him to: "Barcelona has spoken with my agent. I will not stay, because I want to be in a place where they want me. As things are now, the best thing is to leave. I thank the club for having been sincere with me. Many people pass here, but Barcelona will always be there. The world doesn't stop turning when I'm not here anymore. I'm sure the club will find someone to replace me."

Deco, whose contract with Barcelona expires in 2010, said that he wants to leave in a good way and has some clear ideas about his future: "I know there are offers and I'm willing to negotiate with other clubs. I don't want to leave causing problems. I will go to England or Italy. I will not stay in Spain, cause there's only one club at the same level as Barcelona and I will never go to Real Madrid."

Read more:

Barcelona B job offered to Luis Enrique

New Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola (37) met yesterday afternoon with former Barcelona right winger Luis Enrique (38) in a restaurant near the Barcelona port. Both main Catalan sports papers claim that Luis Enrique, who was before rumoured to be a candidate to assist Guardiola (read more here), has been offered to succeed who was his team-mate between 1996 and 2001 as Barcelona B manager.

Luis Enrique, who retired as an active player in 2004, has also an offer from the Spanish football association to become the assistant of the U-21 and to coordinate several youth selections. Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Luis Enrique will make a decision in the coming week.

Read more:

Toure would like to play with brother at Arsenal

Asked about the rumours linking him with a summer move to Arsenal (read more here), Barcelona defensive midfielder and Ivorian international Yaya Touré (25) has said in an interview with British sports site Sky Sports that he would love to play alongside his older brother Kolo (picture, at the left): "I am aware of the interest from the Premier League but I can't say anything yet. However it would be great to play in a big team with my brother. It could be fantastic but you never know."

Madrid sports tabloid As claims that Guardiola prefers that Sevilla midfielder Christian Poulsen (28) would occupy Touré's position before the defence (read more here). Catalan sport paper El Mundo Deportivo claims the opposite: Touré is a key player for Guardiola and Barcelona would only consider to let him go to Arsenal if that would be the only way to bring Arsenal forward Emmanuel Adebayor (24) to Barcelona (read more here).

Read more:

Deal on Argentinian international Palacio close

Catalan sports site Info Esports claims that Barcelona is close to reach an agreement on the transfer of Boca Juniors forward and Argentinian international Rodrigo Palacio (26) (read more here).

Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain would have closed a deal with Palacio's agent, Roberto Depietri. Boca wants the player to stay until the end of the Clausura competition (last match on June 15th) and the Copa Libertadores (final on July 2nd). The transfer could be announced in the coming days.

Madrid sports tabloid As claims that the deal is totally agreed upon by all parties and that it has been negotiated by Barcelona external adviser Joan Patsy. Palacio, who has been close to joining Barcelona several times in the last years, would sign a contract that will link him to Barcelona for the next four seasons.

As and Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claim that Boca Juniors had initially been asking a transfer fee of 20 million euro, with the latter suggesting that the Argentinian club was expected to accept an offer of 15 million euro. As reports that there was an agreement for 12 million euro° but that Boca now wants to add five million euro more to that price. Info Esports claims that Boca Juniors will receive 17 million euro° for the transfer of Argentinian international Palacio.

Read more:

Giovani denies Premier League links

Asked about the rumours linking him with English Premier League clubs Chelsea (read more here) and Manchester City (read more here), Barcelona right wing attacker and Mexican international Giovani dos Santos (19) has said in an interview with Spanish news agency EFE that he regrets there has been those kind of rumours all season long and that he cannot take them serious anymore: "My father is my agent and I know he has not started negotiations with one of those clubs. And besides, he doesn't speak English, so he wouldn't get far anyway."

Giovani, who will undergo an ankle surgery next week, told that he would like to continue in Barcelona: "Barcelona has given me everything, so I would love to stay. Barcelona is the most important thing for me right now."

About his first season with Barcelona's senior team and the sometimes negative reactions of the fans, the Mexican has mixed feelings: "I am aware this season hasn't been my best season. It’s very difficult to play when your own people begin to whistle. But I guess every fan is entitled to their own opinion. It's not unfair. I respect their choices and I hope to turn the whistles into applause one day. I'm nevertheless looking at the past season in a positive way: I have played more minutes than I expected at the start. And I would now like to have much more. At my age, it's important to keep on learning and to keep making progress. "

Read more:

Deal with Piqué

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Barcelona has reached an agreement with Manchester United central defender Gerard Piqué (21). The Barcelona youth product, who can also play as right back defender and defensive midfielder, would return to the club he left in the summer of 2004 and sign a four-year contract.

Manchester United does not plan to hold on to Piqué, whose contract expires in 2009 and has not been renewed (read more here), and would receive a transfer fee of around 5 million euro°. The transfer will not be made official before the Champions League final next Wednesday.

Read more:

Guiza agent learning Barcelona hymn

Asked about the future of her husband, Nuria Bermúdez (picture), the wife and agent of Mallorca forward and Spanish international Dani Güiza (27), suggested in an interview with Spanish news site El Confidencial that Güiza could end up in Barcelona: "I might have to learn the hymn of Barça in Catalan."

With a buyout fee of 15 million euro° (read more here), the Liga top goal scorer will most probably leave Mallorca in the summer. And although she's a true madridista, Bermúdez, who is a Spanish celebrity, doesn't mind that Güiza could sign for Barcelona: "Blaugrana or not, he stays my partner. The future of my children depends upon what he will do."

In an interview with Spanish radio station Cadena Ser, Bermúdez said that Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain has met with Félix Moneo, the other agent of Güiza: "Barcelona is one of the two Spanish clubs who are most interested. Félix Moneo has met a couple of times with Txiki Begiristain and we're now waiting for them to put their proposal on paper. If we have received all offers, we will decide."

Madrid sports tabloid Marca meanwhile claims that Félix Moneo has received a phone call of Barcelona sports director Txiki Beguiristain to ask for more time. Barcelona is still interested in the player but will not take any transfer decisions before current manager Frank Rijkaard has left.

Read more:

Barcelona holding on to Marquez

Enrique Nieto, the agent of Barcelona central defender and Mexican international Rafael Márquez (29), has said in an interview with Catalan radio station Catalunya Ràdio that he has talked with Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain about the situation of the player: "He said that the club will continue to count on Márquez next season."

New Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola would have asked to keep Márquez, whose contract expires in 2010, in the squad because he likes his build up from the back.

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Barcelona preparing shock offer for Kaka

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona wants AC Milan midfielder and Brazilian international Kaká (26) to become the leader of the new project and is therefore ready to make Milan a shock offer: Barcelona playmaker Ronaldinho + Barcelona full back defender Gianluca Zambrotta + Barcelona midfielder Deco + 20 million euro°

Read more:
Barcelona asks 40 million euro for Ronaldinho
New Bayern manager Klinsmann wants Deco
New talks with Milan on Zambrotta

Wednesday 14 May 2008

Adebayor wouldn't say 'no' to Barcelona

Asked about the rumours linking him with Barcelona, Arsenal forward and Togolese international Emmanuel Adebayor (24) has said in an interview with Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo that he heard the news through the press: "Nobody has spoken directly to me or to my agent at this moment. But maybe things will change tomorrow, I don't know."

The Arsenal striker certainly does not reject the possibility of ending up in Barcelona: "Of course I want to play with Barcelona because it's one of the biggest clubs in the world. So if Barcelona would make an offer and they come to an agreement with Arsenal, I would be happy to move. You just don't say 'no' to Barcelona. I would like to play there, now, in two years or in ten years. But at this moment I'm an Arsenal player. One has to wait for an offer and let's see what happens then. I won't get nervous about all this, I plan to enjoy my holidays."

Adebayor acknowledges that the city of Barcelona is attractive to him and could make the decision easier but he doesn't want to leave with a fight: "If you're a good player, it's normal that your club doesn't want to let you go. Arsenal would ask a lot of money and you should see if Barcelona is ready to pay. I'm thankful for the chance Arsenal gave me, so if I would have to leave, I want to do it in a good way."

Stéphane Courbis, the agent of Adebayor, meanwhile denied the interview to British sports site Setanta Sports saying that the quotes were fabricated: “When you know how great his relationship with Arsenal and with Arsene Wenger is, you do not expect him to say what is written in the press. Emmanuel is not stupid. It is stupidity from journalists, who even quoted me in England, whereas my English is not good at all.”

Read more:

Ex-Barça: Rochemback to Sporting

Middlesbrough midfielder and former Barcelona player Fábio Rochemback (26) will return to Portuguese top club Sporting after signing a three-year deal. In 2005, Rochemback left Sporting to join Middlesbrough, who now have rejected the chance to take up a two-year option they had on the midfielder.

Rochemback said in an interview with the official club media that he feels really happy about the transfer: "It was a good deal for all parties. It's very important to arrive at a place where you feel loved, where you know everybody. For me it feels like I'm coming home. I signed for three years, after that we'll see."

Arriving in the summer 2001 from Brazilian club Internacional for 15 million euro°, Fábio Rochemback played two seasons for Barcelona. In 2003 he was included in the transfer of Sporting winger Ricardo Quaresma and moved to Portugal.

Read more:

Read all ex-Barça stories here

Ezquerro could surprisingly stay

Madrid sports tabloid As claims that new Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola would consider to offer Barcelona left wing attacker Santiago Ezquerro (31) a surprise contract renewal.

Ezquerro, who arrived in Barcelona from Athletic Bilbao in 2004 and whose conctract expires in June, was generally expected not to receive a renewal offer and to leave on a free transfer this summer (read more here). Guardiola would nevertheless think that the Spanish winger is a reliable player who could be a good substitute.

Read more:

Contact with Inter on Chivu

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain has contacted Inter Milan to ask about the possibility to transfer Inter central defender and Romanian international Cristian Chivu (27) after it was confirmed that Barcelona central defender Gabriel Milito will be out between six and nine months after a knee injury. New Barcelona manager Josep Guardiole has asked for the player, who he already wanted to bring to Barcelona in 2003 (read more here), since he wants a defender with a good long ball.

Besides contacting with Inter, Barcelona has also reopened the communication with former Barcelona player Tente Sánchez, the representative of Chivu's agent Ioan Becali in Spain. Last summer, Chivu was one of the main transfer options for Barcelona, but the club in the end preferred to buy Zaragoza player Milito, with Chivu going from Roma to Inter.

The paper claims that Inter sports director Lele Oriali has proposed the transfer to José Mourinho, who would be close to become the Inter manager as of next season. Mourinho would have approved the transfer and has suggested that Inter could try to get players like Puyol, Xavi, Deco or Eto'o in exchange.

pep's opinion:
calcio defenders in spain have not been very succesful over the last years (thuram, zambrotta, cannavaro, samuel, etc) but he could be the exception, not being the typical italian defender. if guardiola is looking for a new koeman, this could be him.

Read more:
Looking for a central defender
Which players are on Guardiola's list?
How things stand: central defenders

Giovani agrees terms with Chelsea

British tabloid The Sun claims that Barcelona right wing attacker and Mexican international Giovani dos Santos (18) has found a personal agreement with English Premier League club Chelsea.

Giovani's agent and parents have been negotiating with Chelsea offcials and closed a deal that will make the player earn 2,5 million euro° a year. Chelsea will now make Barcelona, who would be willing to hold on to their youth product, a bid for the Mexican forward.

Read more:

Euro 2008: Sweden squad

Swedish national team coach Lars Lagerbäck has named his squad for Euro 2008. Former Barcelona forward Henrik Larsson (36 - Helsingborg - 2004-2006) is included in the list.

Sweden, who were drawn into Group D along with Spain, Russia and Greece, will play their first match of the tournament on the 10th June, against Greece.

(Barça Transfer Zone will follow the performances of the Barcelona players at the Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland)

Keita prefers Barcelona

French sports paper L'Equipe claims that Barcelona is following Sevilla central midfielder and Mali international Seydou Keita (28) and would be ready to pay the 14 million euro° transfer fee that Sevilla is asking (read more here).

With Real Madrid, Arsenal and Juventus also interested in the Malian player, Keita, whose contract with Sevilla expires in 2011 and who also has a French passport, would prefer to end up playing for Barcelona.

Read more:

Tuesday 13 May 2008

How things stand: Attacking midfielders

(at the end of the season, Barça Transfer Zone looks forward to the coming transfer summer making an analysis for each position, in part 6 we look at the attacking midfielders)

Looking at the numbers, Xavi was clearly the central figure in this department over the almost past season. The three pairs who played the most this years in official games are Xavi-Iniesta (17 starts), Xavi-Deco (16 starts) and Xavi-Gudjohnsen (15 starts).

Iniesta (24) will certainly stay and although Xavi (28) has recently been linked with Chelsea, it can be expected that he won't leave either. Depending on the tactical choices of new Barcelona manager Guardiola, both players could be pulled back a line.

Deco (30) and Gudjohnsen (29) look like they're on their way out, although both players don't seem very enthusiastic about the idea. Especially Deco could play it hard and only leave under his conditions. Deco has been linked with Bayern, Milan, Inter, Juventus, Newcastle and Atlético Madrid. Gudjohnsen is rumoured to be on the lists of Portsmouth and Newcastle.

Many names are circling around for these positions but none of them is really sticking out at this moment. Players that have been mentioned are, amongst others, Cesc (Arsenal - 20), Diego (Bremen - 23), Aquilani (Roma - 23), Lampard (Chelsea - 29), Hleb (Arsenal - 27), Van der Vaart (Hamburg - 25) and Lucho (Porto - 27).

Read all How things stand contributions here or read the contribution about:
Goal keeper - Right back defender - Central defenders - Left back defender - Defensive midfielder - Attacking midfielders - Wing attackers - Centre forward

Pinto wants to stay

Asked about his future, Barcelona goal keeper and Celta Vigo loan out José Manuel Pinto (32) said in an interview with Catalan radio station RAC 1 that he would like to stay with Barcelona under the same conditions: "I would like very much to stay and I'm fighting for that but I'm aware that others will take the final decision. I have been working hard over the past months, I gave everything I have since I arrived here. I'll have to wait and see if the responsible persons think that I should be rewarded for that."

Pinto came to Barcelona from Celta Vigo on loan in January of this year (read more here). Barcelona can pay the deal permanent without having to pay Celta an extra fee. Since arriving Pinto played two Liga games for Barcelona (against Deportivo and Mallorca).

Read more:
Pinto will stay
How things stand: Goal keeper
Transfer period analysis: Winter 2008

Barcelona wants Trezeguet

Italian sports paper Il Corriere dello Sport claims that Barcelona is interested in Juventus forward and French international David Trezeguet (30). The French attacker would be the first request of newly appointed manager Josep Guardiola.

Barcelona would consider to offer Juventus in exchange Barcelona forward and Cameroonian international Samuel Eto'o (27). Trezeguet is nevertheless quoted by the paper as saying that he doesn't have plans to leave: "I'm playing with one of the most important clubs in the world and I would like to finish my career here."

Read more:
Eto'o for sale
Transfer history: Trezeguet
Inter offers 40 million euro for Eto'o

Thuram wants to keep on playing

Barcelona central defender and French international Lilian Thuram (36), whose contract expires in June, has declared at a press conference that he wants to keep on playing next season.

In a interview with French sports paper L'Equipe, Thuram has said that he cannot imagine that he will stay with Barcelona and that he doesn't expect to receive a renewal offer. The French defender doesn't know where he will be playing next season: "I didn't make a decision yet. It will depend on the offers that I will receive."

Read more:

Alves chooses Barcelona

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Sevilla right back defender and Brazilian international Daniel Alves (25) has made the decision to leave for Barcelona in the summer and will not listen to other offers coming in. Alves has not yet made plans to return to his home country because he first want to see the deal with Barcelona closed.

Alves has already agreed terms with Barcelona (read more here). Barcelona has made a formal offer for the player and it is expected that the negotiations with Sevilla could start this week since both teams have nothing left to play for in the Liga which allows them to start concentrating on next season.

After the Betis game on Sunday, where Alves saw a red card which won't allow him to play the last game of the season with sevilla, the right back seemed to announce his goodbye in an interview with Spanish radio station Onda Cero: "There shouldn't be much fuss about all this. It has been five brillant years here in Sevilla and we all knew that one day or another this moment would arrive. I hope that I can say goodbye to the fans next week and that it can be a positive experience."

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Milan wants Puyol to replace Maldini

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Barcelona captain Carles Puyol (30) is a major AC Milan summer target (read more here). The Italian club wants to rebuild the squad and thinks that Puyol could be 'the new Maldini'. Milan president Adriano Galliani, who has an excellent personal relationship with Puyol, is a known admirer of the Catalan defender.

Milan does not want to wait much longer to make a bid, since some other clubs are monitoring the situation of Puyol. The paper claims that Manchester United could be willing to offer Manchester United central defender Gerard Piqué (21) plus an amount of money for the Spanish international.

The Barcelona board would not immediately reject an offer coming in for Puyol since a squad reshuffle is planned and this could be the last big opportunity to get an important transfer fee for the player.

Puyol has expressed in the past that he prefers to retire playing for Barcelona but does not plan to stay at any cost if the club would ask him to go. Milan has always been his preferred destination in case of having to leave.

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Euro 2008: Portugal squad

Portugal national team coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has named his squad for Euro 2008. Barcelona midfielder Deco (30) and ex-Barcelona players Simão Sabrosa (28 - Atlético Madrid - 1999-2001) and Ricardo Quaresma (24 - Porto - 2003-2004 picture) are included in the list.

Portugal, who were drawn into Group A along with Switzerland, Czech Republic and Turkey, will play their first match of the tournament on the 7th June, against Turkey.

(Barça Transfer Zone will follow the performances of the Barcelona players at the Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland)

Monday 12 May 2008

Crosas was close to Sociedad

Olympique Lyon midfielder and Barcelona loan out Marc Crosas has told in an interview with Spanish news agency EFE that he was close to joining Segunda División team Real Sociedad in the January transfer window (read more here):

"It was a done deal with Real Sociedad. I was very motivated to help them to return to the Primera División, but in extremis there was an offer from Olympique Lyon. Eric Abidal told me that Lyon was interested and brought us together. With all due respect to Real Sociedad but I guess everybody sees the difference between the two clubs and can understand my decision."

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Fake agent links Huntelaar with Barcelona

Italian player's agent Vincenzo Morabito, who says he represents Ajax forward Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (24), has said in an interview with Italian radio station Radio Radio that he thinks the player will leave this summer for Spain: "Real Madrid and Barcelona have already shown interest in a transfer. Johan Cruijff likes the player a lot and he's very influential in Barcelona, so I think he'll join them in the end."

Last month, Huntelaar nevertheless denied to have any link with Morabito in a message on his official website: "Klaas-Jan Huntelaar wants to give a clear message. There is a man who says to be the manager of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, but he's not. His name is Vincenzo Morabito. The things he says are unreliable and not true. There is only one official manager and his name is Arnold Oosterveer."

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