Saturday 24 May 2008

Why did Barcelona miss out on Garay?

Racing Santander central defender Ezequiel Garay (21), who signed for Real Madrid this week, admitted in an interview with Madrid sports tabloid Marca that he was close to joining Barcelona a few months ago: "With Barcelona everything was agreed upon. But then the deal collapsed for reasons I'm not aware of."

A few days before this blog started in the beginning of February, Racing Santander president Francisco Pernía said that negotiations were being held and that it would highly surprise him if Garay wouldn't end up playing for Barcelona next season.

So what went wrong? A lot of possible reasons have been put forward over the last months. They can mainly be divided in two groups. An overview.

1. Economic reasons
Things seemed yo go wrong when the clubs had found on agreement and Garay's agents Fabián Basualdo and Ricardo Schlieper came in. The agents would have offered the player to other clubs, amongst which Manchester United and Real Madrid, apparently hoping to organize a bid race.

Barcelona, who was already hesitating about the transfer price of presumably 14 million euro° (plus 4 million euro° in incentives), did not want to enter the game and put everything on hold in the beginning of March.

Barcelona and Santander had agreed that the transfer fee would be paid in three slices over the year, but Barcelona didn't pay the first slice in April. Barcelona that way lost its option on Garay, the deal was definitely off and Santander offered the player to Real Madrid.

It was suggested that Barcelona didn't pay because of a cash problem. Madrid sports tabloid Marca claims that Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain had closed the deal but that Barcelona president Joan Laporta then refused to pay the 18 million euro°.

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Santander agreed to sell Garay to Real Madrid for only 10 million euro° because Madrid agreed pay the total amount immediately and Santander needs cash to make a few transfers in view of their participation in the Uefa Cup next season.

2. Technical reasons
Catalan sports paper Sport claimed in March that Rijkaard had vetoed the exit of Rafael Márquez (29), the player Garay should have been replacing. El Mundo Deportivo analyst Òscar Garcia had already labelled Garay "the new Marquez" because of the ressemblances in their playing style.

Catalan sports paper Sport claimed this week that the Barcelona tecnical department preferred Gerard Piqué (21) and gave up on Garay a few weeks ago when the negotiation on the transfer of the Catalan went in the right way. And because Márquez now seems to be staying, another central defender is not a priority anymore.

Piqué was chosen over Garay because the first is more polyvalent (also being able to play as right back defender and defensive midfielder), because he has a better pass and an contribute more in the built-up, because he is cheaper and because he knows the club. Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claimed that the last scouting reports on Garay were not convincing.

Read more:

Benzema will not come this summer

Olympique Lyon forward and French international Karim Benzema (20) keeps being named as the main candidate to replace Barcelona forward Samuel Eto'o (27) who could be sold in the coming months (read more here). But this week it again became clear that Benzema is just not going anywhere this summer.

After Lyon won its seventh consecutive French league title last weekend, Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas made clear in an interview with Catalan sports paper Sport that the club has no intention at all to sell the player: "I can assure that Benzema will play for Lyon next season. And I even think that he will continue for two more years. He's not for sale, so it's not even about the money."

And Karim Djaziri, the agent of Benzema, said in an interview with Catalan radio station RAC 1 on Tuesday that it's not a secret that Barcelona is interested in the player but he repeated that the player wants to stay in Lyon and doesn't want to rush his career: "There's no truth in all those rumours. Karim will not leave Lyon. He wants to stay and keep on playing with his club."

Read more:

Gudjohnsen top target for Bundesliga newcomer

German tabloid Express claims that Barcelona attacker and Iceland international Eidur Gudjohnsen (29), whose contract with Barcelona expires in 2010, is high on the wish list of FC Köln manager Christoph Daum.

Köln will play again in the Bundesliga next season and Daum wants to bring in experienced players. He would have urged his club to find the money necessary to do that. The manager didn't want to comment on the rumour yesterday: "I don't make public statements about possible transfers."

Köln sports director Michael Meier said that the club is ready to invest: "A deal is not close. But it's clear we have never avoided to take risks in the past and we won't change that attitude in the future."

Read more:

Guardiola wants Henry to stay

Asked about his future at Barcelona and the rumours saying that he could be on his way out after only one season in Spain (read more here), Barcelona forward and French international Thierry Henry (30) said in an interview with French sports paper L'Equipe that former Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola would want him to stay next season:

"Like I've said at the end of the season, I have three more years left, so I'm a Barça player at this moment. Now I'm focussing on the Euro, after that we'll see. But I've noticed that the coach doesn't want me to leave. Of course that pleases me cause it means that people see how hard I have worked on the pitch, even if sometimes that means I can't really contribute a lot in attack."

Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain said earlier this week at a press conference that Barcelona has no plans to sell one of the four players who were transferred in the summer of 2007.

Read more:

Chivu not planning to leave Inter

Asked about the rumours linking him with a summer move to Barcelona (read more here), Inter Milan centre and left back defender and Romanian international Cristian Chivu (27) said to his club's official website that he had no intention to leave Inter already after one season: "I never listen to transfer rumours, not even by mistake. I'm an Inter player and I am very happy and proud to be a part of this club and of this great squad."

Read more:

Oleguer wants to stay

Asked about the rumours saying that he could be one of the players having to leave Barcelona in the summer (read more here), Barcelona centre and right back defender Oleguer Presas (28) said at a promotional act for a brand of football boots that he couldn't be very concrete on his future at this stage: "The only thing I can say is that my intention always has been to stay with Barcelona."

Read more:
Ajax wants Oleguer on loan

Friday 23 May 2008

Keita passed by the Camp Nou

Sevilla midfielder and Mali international Seydou Keita was in the Camp Nou in Barcelona today to negotiate on his contract.

Keita and his agent met with Barcelona sports vice president Marc Ingla and Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain. It is believed that Barcelona and the player have reached an agreement.

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Keita and Barcelona agreed on a four-year deal. Spanish news agency Europa Press thinks that the player already underwent medical tests today.

Before making the deal official, Barcelona nevertheless wants to negotiate first with Sevilla on the transfer fee. Keita has a buyout fee of 14 million euro° but if the two clubs can find an agreement, Barcelona would not have to pay the VAT on that fee (read more
here). If a deal is not found, Barcelona will probably pay the 14 milion euro plus VAT (2,2 million euro°) on Monday.

Read more:
Barcelona will pay Keita buyout fee
Keita to replace Deco
Keita possible back-up for Touré

Top meeting with Milan to close Zambrotta deal

Spanish news agency EFE claims that AC Milan president Adriano Galliani (picture) flew this afternoon to Barcelona where he will have a dinner with Barcelona president Joan Laporta. It is expected that the deal on Barcelona right back defender Gianluca Zambrotta (31) will be closed.

Until now the negotiations were held between Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain and Milan adviser Ernesto Bronzetti, who met again last Wednesday and Thursday. Catalan radio station RAC 1 claimed that Bronzetti had dinner with Milan manager Carlo Ancelotti and his wife in the 'La barca de Salamanca' restaurant in the Olympic port of Barcelona on Wednesday.

EFE claims that Barcelona asks 12 million euro° for the Italian defender, while Milan offers 8 million euro° with the two clubs possibly to meet in the middle. Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo says the transfer fee will be between 9 and 10 million euro°. Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona asks 10 million euro°, while Madrid is only offering 7 million euro°.

Beppe Bonetto, the agent of Zambrotta, said yesterday to the last paper that it's up to the clubs now: "Milan is not willing to pay what Barcelona is asking but that's normal in this kind of negotiations. The player is ready to go to Milan if the two clubs in the end come to an agreement."

It is believed that both presidents will also talk about the possible transfers of Barcelona playmaker Ronaldinho (28) and Barcelona forward Samuel Eto'o (27). El Mundo Deportivo says that Bronzetti also asked for Barcelona central defenders Carles Puyol (30) and Rafael Márquez (29) and Barcelona midfielder Deco (30).

Read more:

Pique is in Barcelona

Asked about the statement of Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain earlier this week that a deal on the player was close (read more here), Manchester United central defender Gerard Piqué (21) said today to journalists when arriving in Barcelona where he will play with Catalunya against Argentinia tomorrow that he could not deny that: "It's all very well-advanced, like Txiki already said, but as long as everything is not officially confirmed, I don't want to think much about it."

Piqué said that he can only wait and see how things develop but looks forward to a return to Barcelona: "I've always said that I would never close the Barça door. I've always been a culé and returning and wearing that jersey is the best thing that can happen. I didn't know when I would come back but now everything seems to be close. But I insist that I'm not the one who will make the decision, it now all depends on the two clubs."

In an interview with Spanish radio station Onda Cero, Piqué said that he hoped for a quick deal: "For now I still have a contract for one more year with Manchester, but I hope that everything will be solved soon. I'm sure the best is yet to come for me." Piqué also confirmed that Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson didn't give him any more playing time since the first rumours linking the player with Barcelona (read more here).

Amador Bernabéu, the grandfather of Piqué and a former Barcelona board member (read more here), said in an interview with Catalan radio station Ona FM that the family hopes for the rumours to be confirmed: "We are waiting for him to come home. There's a big difference between the Gerard who left when he was 17 and the one who won the Champions League and the Premier League this season. Although he has always been a leader in the dressing-room, he grew up in England and became a man."

Read more:

The short list

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona has drawn up a short list of ten players. At least seven of those players would come to Barcelona in the summer.

Will certainly come:
1. Gerard Piqué
2. Seydou Keita
3. Daniel Alves

Will most probably come:
4. Fabricio Coloccini
5. Alexander Hleb

One of the following two will come (in order of preference):
6. Florent Malouda
7. David Silva

One of the following three will come (in order of preference):
8. Karim Benzema
9. Emmanuel Adebayor
10. Dimitar Berbatov

OFFICIAL: Edmilson to Villareal

Villareal has announced on its official website that the club has reached an agreement with Barcelona defensive midfielder José Edmílson (31), whose contract with Barcelona expires in June.

Edmílson will sign for two years and will be officially presented at a press conference on Monday. Over the last months Edmílson had also been linked with Betis, Besiktas and Júbilo Iwata. Less than one month ago, the first rumours about an upcoming agreement with Villareal were spread. Last Friday those rumours were confirmed when the Brazilian midfielder underwent a medical.

At an emotional press conference this morning, Edmílson said goodbye to Barcelona: "I want to thank the socios and everyone that has been supporting me. I'm sad that I'm leaving but I'm happy for the four years I spend here. I have lived a dream in a club that is indeed 'more than a club'. In those four years I have tried to do the best I could. The injuries have not helped me a lot, but I only take good memories with me. Of great people, a great atmosphere and an impressive city."

Referring to his 'black sheep' statement of last season, when he pointed at some team members as not being enough involved with the club, Edmílson said: "I hope the people will not remember me for that bomb declaration, but for the person I am. I want to return to Barcelona one day with my head up high."

José Edmílson came to Barcelona in the summer of 2004, arriving from French champions Olympique Lyon. Also due to injuries he never became a key figure of the team. His best season was 2005-2006, playing the Champions League final in Paris. In four seasons with Barcelona he won two Spanish league titles in 2005 and 2006, two Spanish super cups in 2005 and 2006 and one Champions League in 2006.

1994 - 2000 : São Paulo (Bra)
2000 - 2004 : Olympique Lyon (Fra)
2004 - 2008 : Barcelona (Spa)
2008 - (2010) : Villareal (Spa)

1995 - 2006 : Brazilian national team

Read the whole Edmilson transfer story here

Almeria's Diego Alves to rival Valdes

Barcelona site Pelikano claims that Almería goal keeper Diego Alves (22) is the last name to have joined the list of possible goal keepers who could be transferred in the coming months (read more here).

Barcelona thinks that first-choice goal keeper Víctor Valdés (26) performs at his best when he feels the pressure of having to compete for his place and is therefore looking to bring in a new goal keeper in the summer transfer window. Future Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola has relaunched the search for a competitor to Valdés.

Brazilian goal keeper Diego Alves, who also has an Italian passport, came to Spain last summer from Atlético Mineiro and has a contract with Almería until 2012. He was a youth international for many years and is expected to make his debut for the Brazilian national team in the near future.

Read more:
Looking for a goal keeper
Villareal's Diego Lopez to rival Valdes
How things stand: Goal keeper

Guiza willing to return to Barcelona

Asked about the rumours linking him with a summer move to Barcelona (read more here), Mallorca forward and Spanish international Dani Güiza (27) said in an interview with Spanish football weekly paper Don Balón that he's open for a transfer: "There have been rumours but we'll see wat will happen. I have always been very motivated playing against Barcelona but that doesn't mean I wouldn't be able to wear their shirt."

Having played half a season at Barcelona B, Liga top goalscorer Güiza still thinks he didn't get a fair chance back then (read more here) but now sees it as apart of the learning process he had to go through: "It wasn't a good time. They didn't really give me enough opportunties for them to see if I was up for it or not. But today I'm happy I played there. Maybe I wasn't able to grab my chance either. Thanks to god, I found the right way later on."

Read more:

Silva first choice for left wing

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Valencia left winger and Spanish international David Silva (22) is the number one candidate to occupy the position of left wing attacker next season. Future Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola and the technical department of the club think that the player would fit perfectly into the new project.

Because of the critical financial situation of the club, Valencia doesn't exclude to sell some of their top players in the summer and would be willing to negotiate with Barcelona on a transfer of Silva, whose contract expires in 2013.

Despite the buyout fee of 90 million euro°, Valencia would be asking at this moment 25 million euro°, a price Barcelona wants to reduce because they need money for other transfers. Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona wants to pay not more than 20 million euro°.

Madrid sports tabloid Marca reports that Barcelona has already held several talks with Silva's agent to know more about the wishes of the player (read more
here). Silva seems ready to leave Valencia.

With the transfer fee probably being between 20 and 25 million euro°, the club wants to close first the transfers of Sevilla players Daniel Alves and Seydou Keita and see how much money they receive for some players who will leave the club.

Read more:
New talks with Silva
How things stand: Wing attackers
Bayern rejects offer for Ribery

Rijkaard top candidate for Mexico job

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard (45) is at this moment the first choice candidate to become the next manager of the Mexican national team (read more here).

The president of the Mexican football federation, Justino Compeán, is in Europe together with secretary general Decio de María to close a deal with a manager who is now active in European football. Both officials are expected to travel to Barcelona in the coming days to talk with Rijkaard, who they contacted for the first time a few weeks ago.

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo nevertheless claims that Rijkaard has almost taken the decision to take a sabbatical (read more here). After five years in Barcelona, the Dutchman thinks it's time to disconnect for at least one year, giving him the chance to reload his batteries before accepting a new offer. Chelsea would nevertheless still be convinced that they can make Rijkaard change his mind (read more here).

During the sabbatical, Rijkaard and his family are expected to keep on living in Barcelona although the manager would spend more time in Amsterdam, the city where he was born and raised, and in the United Stated, a country he always had a lot of sympathy for.

Read more:

Thursday 22 May 2008

DEBATE: The summer 2007 transfers

Because I often read interesting comments on the blog but at the same time feel it's not easy to fully enter an issue because there are always fresh new rumours who shift the attention away, I'll put now and then an item up for the discussion.

Before we look to the future, it might be a good idea to make an evaluation of the four transfers of last summer: Thierry Henry, Gabriel Milito, Eric Abidal and Yaya Touré.

What is your opinion about the season of these four players? Who disappointed you, who pleasantly surprised you, were they worth the money we spent, should they stay,... ?

Sylvinho ready to accept renewal offer

Asked about the renewal offer he will receive from the club (read more here), Barcelona left back defender Sylvinho Mendes (34) said in an interview with the official club television channel Barça TV that he will accept the offer: "I really want to stay here. I'm comfortable in this city, I have a great feeling towards the club and my family enjoys it here. I see the offer as a reward for the hard work I've been doing all along the season."

Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain said on Monday that Sylvinho will be the only one who will get a renewal from the five players whose contract expires in June, praising the Brazilina defender for his attitude both on and off the pitch (read more

Read more:
Barcelona wants to renew Sylvinho
How things stand: Left back defender
Sylvinho will accept renewal offer

Youth: Douglas Costa de Souza (Gremio)

Several Brazilian media claim that Barcelona is interested in Grêmio left wing midfielder and Brazilian youth international Douglas (17). He is described by a coach as a player with a great ball handling who is eager to learn. Douglas can also play as attacking midfielder or second striker.

A former team-mate says the following about Douglas: "It's a player who is very technical, very fast, very skillful. He has a great view, knows how to organize the game, has a great pass to assist the forwards. And he works really hard, it's a good guy, very modest. He really enjoys it if he can let others score."

Grêmio general director Rodrigo Caetano, who says he hasn't heard anything from Barcelona, has admitted that the club needs to sell players to keep the financial situation of the club in balance. Rumours go that Douglas would have a buyout clause of around 8 million euro°. Although that has not been confirmed, it is believed that selling Douglas could be the solution to keep several first team regulars at the club.

César Bottega, the agent of the player, said to Brazilian newspaper Zero Hora that Barcelona has been watching Douglas: "Last week I handed them some dvd's about him and Tiago Duarte, who I also represent and who is followed since some time by Villareal. And they are clearly most interested in Douglas." The player has a contract until the end of 2009 and Grêmio wants to renew that until 2013 once Douglas turns 18 in September.

Douglas Costa de Souza is playing for the Juniores team of Grêmio and is expected to be promoted to the first team next season. The midfielder already played for the Brazilian U-20 and is now concentrated with the Brazilian U-19 who will play some friendly games in the coming weeks.

Read more:
Youth: Felipe Coutinho (Vasco da Gama)
Youth: Thiago Alcántara
Youth: Erick Flores (Flamengo)

Read all Youth transfer stories here

Barcelona will pay Keita buyout fee

All Spanish and Catalan media seem to agree that Barcelona will pay the buyout fee of 14 million euro° for Sevilla midfielder and Mali international Seydou Keita (28).

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that future Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola repeated during a four-hour meeting on Monday with Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain and Barcelona sports vice president Marc Ingla that Keita is vital for his project (read more here). It is expected the transfer can be completed in the next week. If the deal can be closed in th coming days, Keita could be presented on Sunday. On Monday the player will leave Spain for the Malian national team.

Sevilla president José María del Nido said on Tuesday to journalists that his club doesn't think about lowering the fee but seemed to accept that the player will leave: "Several clubs are interested and we always say to them that the buyout fee is 14 million euro° plus VAT. I think it's very likely that clubs want to pay that clause. In fact some already have told me they would."

Catalan sports paper Sport says that Barcelona will nevertheless try to find an agreement with Sevilla, which should allow them not to pay the VAT, which is 16 per cent of the clause (in this case: 2,2 million euro°). VAT (value added tax) should only be paid if no agreement with the club is found and the buyout clause is used.

Sevilla officials met with Pascal Boisseau, the agent of Keita who lives in Barcelona, on Monday and offered the player a contract renewal that would include a higher buyout fee, but Keita prefers to wait and see what will happen in the coming weeks. Del Nido said those negotiations soon seemed to turn out negative: "It's impossible to talk with him about a rise of his buyout fee. When he arrived here for 4 million euro° it was already difficult to agree on that 14 million euro clause."

In an interview with French sports paper L'Equipe, Keita is still cautious: "I read in the papers that Barcelona is the main option. Ok, seriously: everybody knows they are interested. I would be sad for the fans if I had to leave Sevilla, but Barça is of course Barça... To hear that a club like that is following you, makes you very proud. We'll see. You should know I'm not the only one who should take the decision. There's a clause too. Anyway, we'll see what will happen in the coming days."

People from his entourage said to the French paper that Keita has clearly chosen Barcelona (read more here). His agent confirmed in an interview with Catalan radio station Ona FM that Barcelona is one of the preferred options of the Malian. Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that the player rejected last week a last-minute offer from Real Madrid.

Read more:

Deco top target for Bayern

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Barcelona midfielder and Portuguese midfielder Deco (30) is a top target for Bayern Munich manager Jürgen Klinsmann after the German champions failed to transfer AC Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso (read more here).

Klinsmann will try to convince Deco, who has said he prefers to leave for England or Italy (read more here), by making him the key player of a squad ready to fight for next season's Champions League. Bayern would be considering to offer Barcelona a transfer fee of around 20 million euro° for the Brazilian born midfielder whose contract expires in 2010.

Deco meanwhile repeated in an interview with Spanish radio station Cadena Ser that he will certainly leave but is now focusing on the European championship: "I have not played a lot this season, so I know I'm gonna play a great Euro 2008. If they want me to stay after that, I won't accept. They haven't thrown me out but when a club says they are open to listen to offers, that means they not really want you anymore. And when that's the case, the best thing is to leave."

Read more:

Caceres too expensive for Barcelona

Madrid sports tabloid Marca claims that Barcelona sports director has contacted Recreativo Huelva central defender Martín Cáceres (21) to hear more about his situation (read more here).

The Uruguayan player belongs to Villareal and to Daniel Fonseca, the former Uruguayan international who represents Cáceres. Because Cáceres will not move for less than 20 million euro°, Barcelona has put the option aside for the moment.

Read more:

Luis Enrique to coach Barcelona B

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that former Barcelona player Luis Enrique (38) has accepted the offer to succeed future Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola as head coach of Barcelona B.

Luis Enrique therefore rejected an offer from Fernando Hierro, the sports director of the Spanish football association to become the head coach of the U-19 and the assistant coach of the U-21 (read more here). It was Guardiola who personally asked for Luis Enrique as his successor, being able that way to work together with a person he fully trusts. Luis Enrique was before also rumoured to become the assistant of Guardiola (read more here).

Although no official statement has been made yet, Catalan sports paper Sport thinks that Luis Enrique suggests on his blog that he indeed has found a deal with Barcelona by saying: "To all those who are concerned about my future, I can assure them that there is nothing to worry about: I will be at home, that’s crystal clear." Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain admitted on Monday that Barcelona made the former Barcelona captain an offer (read more here).

Luis Enrique obtained his coaching degree in 2006, doing his internship at the Barcelona youth academy. Since he retired as an active player in 2004, the former Barcelona right wing attacker has mainly been involved in participating in marathons and triathlons. Like Guardiola, he will have no experience as manager when taking charge of Barcelona's second team. It is expected Luis Enrique will sign a two-year deal.

Read more:

Pique soon to be presented

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Manchester United central defender Gerard Piqué (21) could be officially presented as new player of Barcelona before the end of the week.

Piqué will be in Barcelona on Saturday to play the friendly game that opposes Catalunya and Argentinia. Asked about the rumours linking him with a return to Barcelona, Piqué said earlier this week: "We will talk after the final."

The paper also reveals that Piqué didn't play the semi-final of the Champions League against Barcelona because Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson knew about the negotiations between Barcelona and the player and didn't want to take any risk.

And although Ferguson has given his approval to the transfer, the statements of Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain earlier this week saying that the negotiations with Piqué were well-advanced (read more here) would have lead the Scotsman to leave the Catalan defender out of the squad for the Champions League final.

Catalan sports paper Sport meanwhile claims that Piqué, who nevertheless won his first Champions League having contributed in the previous rounds, rejected offers from Atlético Madrid and Juventus who where financially more interesting (read more here). Barcelona did not want to enter a bid race for their own youth product who left the club four years ago for 300 000 euro°.

Read more:

Wednesday 21 May 2008

Barcelona will offer Eto'o in Chivu deal

British broadcaster Channel 4 claims that Barcelona will tempt Italian champions Inter Milan to sell central defender Cristian Chivu by offering Barcelona forward and Cameroon international Samuel Eto’o (27) in exchange (read more here).

Barcelona hopes this offer could make Inter change their mind about not wanting to sell the Romanian international. Inter is one of the main candidates to take over Samuel Eto'o, who is valued at around 25 million euro°.

Read more:

How things stand: Centre forward

(at the end of the season, Barça Transfer Zone looks forward to the coming transfer summer making an analysis for each position, in part 8 we look at the centre forward)

Due to the injury of Samuel Eto'o (27), who kept him away from playing until December, Thierry Henry (30) initially took the place in the centre. Since Henry had to move regularly to the left cause of the troubles Ronaldinho was facing, Bojan (17) got his chance up front.

Bojan will certainly stay and will probably sign a renewal this summer (read more here). At this moment it looks like Henry will also stay, although he has been linked with a return to the Premier League (Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City, Newcastle, West Ham, Aston Villa), with a move to the Major League Soccer (Seattle, New York) and with clubs like Inter Milan and Fenerbahçe.

Since he declared one month ago that he would leave Barcelona if the team does not win a trophy next season (read more here), Samuel Eto'o is in the middle of a transfer storm. Tottenham would have been pushing hard for the striker but it seems for now difficult he'll end up with the club, both for economic and sports reasons. Clubs like AC Milan, Inter Milan, Juventus, Fenerbahçe, Chelsea and Arsenal could also be following the Cameroonian.

Karim Benzema (Lyon - 20) is the dream candidate but will not leave Lyon in the summer. Since Guardiola was named as manager, there are rumours about him wanting to bring in a strong, tall striker, with Emmanuel Adebayor (Arsenal - 24) apparently being the back-up for Benzema.

Other names that were mentioned include Adriano (São Paulo/Inter - 26), Jozy Altidore (New York - 18), Amauri (Palermo - 27), Dimitar Berbatov (Tottenham - 27), Diego Milito (Zaragoza - 28), Didier Drogba (Chelsea - 30), Dani Güiza (Mallorca -27), Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Ajax - 24), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Inter - 26), Kevin Kuranyi (Schalke - 26), Luis Fabiano (Sevilla - 27), Rodrigo Palacio (Boca Juniors - 26) and David Trezeguet (Juventus - 30).

Read all How things stand contributions here or read the contribution about:

Japanese interest for Edmilson

British news agency Reuters claims that Japanese J-League club Júbilo Iwata is interested in Barcelona defensive midfielder José Edmílson (31), whose contract expires at the end of June and won't be renewed (read more here).

A Júbilo official told the news agency: "He's one of the players we have short-listed. The holding midfield role is a high priority position for us."

According to Japanese media, Júbilo are preparing to offer Edmílson, who is close to a transfer to Villareal (read more here), a multi-year deal worth around 1,5 million euro° a year.

Read more:
Edmilson close to Villareal
Edmilson on his way to Villareal
Edmilson on Besiktas list

New talks with Silva

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain had yesterday intense contacts with the entourage of Valencia left winger and Spanish international David Silva (22). Although the player would like to leave Valencia after a dramatic season and Barcelona thinks he would fit perfectly with the club, no final agreement with the player has yet been reached.

Barcelona did not yet start negotiating with Valencia. Silva would have a buyout clause of 18 million euro°, but Valencia could be willing to drop that fee since the club is rebuilding a new team for next season.

Read more:

Ex-Barça: Meho Kodro dismissed by Bosnia

The Bosnian football association has dismissed former Barcelona forward Meho Kodro (41) as Bosnian national team coach last weekend.

The Bosnian manager, who was appointed in January of this year, refused to take charge of the team for a friendly game against Iran scheduled for this week because he hadn't been asked for his approval of the match.

Mehmed "Meho" Kodro arrived in Barcelona from Real Sociedad in the summer of 1995. Due to injuries and worries related to the war in his home country he didn't perform at the level that was expected. After one season he left for Tenerife.

Read more:
Ex-Barça: Fabio Rochemback
Ex-Barça: Ronald Koeman
Ex-Barça: Ruud Hesp

Read all Ex-Barça stories here

Barcelona rejects Tottenham offer for Valdes

Spanish news site El Confidencial claims that Barcelona has rejected an offer from English Premier League club Tottenham for first choice goal keeper Víctor Valdés (26).

Tottenham manager Juande Ramos is looking for a goal keeper in Spain and Valdés was on top of his list. It is said that Barcelona could have been willing to listen to offers coming in one month ago, future Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola has now vetoed a transfer of the Catalan player, although a rival for Valdés could be brought in this summer (read more here).

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Deal on Zambrotta close

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that the negotiations between Barcelona and AC Milan on several players are going on and that an agreement on the transfer of Barcelona full back defender and Italian international Gianluca Zambrotta (31) has almost been reached.

Although some details still have to be discussed, Zambrotta would join Milan for a transfer fee of around 9 million euro°.

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Malouda is on the list

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Chelsea left winger and French international Florent Malouda (27) is a new candidate to replace Barcelona playmaker Ronaldinho (28) at the left wing attacker position.

Malouda, who came to Chelsea last summer but who found it hard to adapt to the way of playing in the English Premier league, could leave Chelsea for less than 20 million euro°.

Joining Barcelona would enable Malouda to team-up again with Barcelona left back defender Eric Abidal who he knows from his time at Lyon and from the French national team.

Asked about the rumour linking the player to Barcelona, Philippe Flavier, the agent of Malouda, said to British sports site Setanta Sports that with a Champions League final coming up now is not the time to think about the future: "I have not met with Barcelona and it is too early to know what Florent’s future is made of."

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Tuesday 20 May 2008

Giovani gives unclear signals about future

Asked about his future before he underwent a succesfull ankle operation yesterday, Barcelona right wing attacker and Mexican international Giovani dos Santos (19) said to journalists that he won't accept to leave on a loan deal in the summer, an option that has been suggested in the past weeks (read more here): "I would like to stay, but I don't want to be a nuissance. If I have to leave Barcelona one day, it will be for good. If a cycle at one place comes to an end, I think one shouldn't come back. I want to be succesfull, no matter where I play."

After he scored a hattrick on Saturday against Murcia, Giovani, who said he wasn't totally fit this season, said to Catalan sports paper Sport that his wish is to stay although he didn't exclude an exit: "It seems that Guadiola doesn't count on me. But this is only what the papers say, nothing more. I think that the club does count on me. To me they have said that I will continue, but I don't have cancelled other options yet. But if it depends on me, I stay in Barcelona. This club is my first option, because they gave me a lot of chances."

In an interview with Mexican newspaper El Centro the Brazilian born player nevertheless said (unconfirmedly) that he wants to leave because of how he was treated by the fans this season (read more here): "Barcelona wants me to stay, but I will have to think carefully about my situation. Being 19 years old, I'm not really looking at the economic side of things, but at the sports side. It will be my decision. Barcelona has given me everything and a part of me wants to stay, but there are details that hurt you, like the treatment by the fans. Nobody wants to be somewhere where he's not wanted."

If Giovani leaves, he thinks he'll end up in the English Premier League: "Everything seems to indicate that my future lies in England. It's my first option, they play a kind of football that is suited for me, so I would love to go and play there. Chelsea is an option, but not the only one." Giovani didn't deny that Manchester City and Tottenham are amongst the other candidates.

pep's note:
if that last interview is confirmed, it dates most probably from before the Murcia game

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Giovani agrees terms with Chelsea

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