Saturday 5 July 2008

Better contract for Messi

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Barcelona has offered Barcelona right wing attacker and Argentinian international Lionel Messi (21) a better contract (read more here).

Messi will now receive a year salary of 8 million euro, with another possible 4,5 million euro in incentives: the player receives one million euro extra if Barcelona qualifies for the Champions League, one million euro extra if he plays at least 60 per cent of the official matches and 2,5 million euro extra depending on the trophies won.

This pay rise doesn't mean that the duration or the buyout clause are changed: Messi's contract with Barcelona expires in 2014 and the buyout clause is 150 million euro°. Despite several tempting offers from other European top clubs, Messi has always shown the will to stay in Barcelona.

Barcelona economic vice president Ferran Soriano confirmed the contract renewal in an interview with Catalan radio station RAC 1: "We have adapted the contract to his performances."

Read more:
Record renewal offer for Messi
Russian energy company considering Messi bid
100 million euro Chelsea offer for Messi

Barcelona pushing hard for Adebayor

British newspaper The Guardian claims that Barcelona is preparing a final 38 million euro° bid for Arsenal forward and Togo international Emmanuel Adebayor (24).

A 30 million euro° offer made by Barcelona sports vice president Marc Ingla in London earlier this week was rejected. With the initial asking price being 45 million euro°, Arsenal made nevertheless clear that they are prepared to sell if the price is right.

Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger was initially opposed to a move but the mixed messages from Adebayor and his entourage about the future of the player and the difficult negotiations on a pay rise seem to have burnt the bridges between the player and the club. Wenger is understood to be disappointed by Adebayor's attitude and doesn't want to hold the player in London against his will.

Madrid sports tabloid Marca meanwhile claims that Barcelona sources have confirmed that the club has not yet made any formal bid for Adebayor so far and it is not planning to launch a bid before Eto'o has left the club.

Asked about how things stand at this moment, Adebayor's agent Stéphane Courbis has yesterday said in an interview with French football weekly paper France Football that at this point all options are still open: "At this moment, no decision has been taken and everything remains possible. Because there were too many things written lately, the player and myself will not speak with the press anymore at this stage."

Read more:
Adebayor cannot make his mind up
Adebayor main centre forward option
Hleb option falls back

Barça B: Gai feels ready for first team

Asked about the rumours that he could join the first team squad this summer (read more here), Barcelona B left wing attacker and Israeli international Gai Assulin (17) has said in an interview with Catalan radio station Ona FM that he feels ready to play with the senior team:

"I think that I have the capacities to play with the first team. So I just hope that they will give me the chance to prove that during the pre-season cause I know I will be able to take the chance if it's given to me."

If Gai would do the pre-season with the first team, that would mean that he would only have had two weeks off, since the training sessions start next Monday and after the promotion with Barcelona B Gai also played the final of the Spanish cup with the Juvenil A team last weekend.

Read more:
Gai Assulin will be promoted next season
Which B players could be promoted?
Ajax wants Gai Assulin on loan

Eto'o will only leave for the right price

Asked about the situation of Barcelona players Ronaldinho and Eto'o, Barcelona economic vice president Ferran Soriano has said at a press conference yesterday that the two players will only leave if an appropriate bid comes in:

"Selling players is not only a technical decision, it's also an economic decision. Barcelona will only sell Ronaldinho and Eto'o if the right market price is paid. If that's not the case, they will not leave. And like the coach has said before, we will then do everything to get the best out of them."

Madrid sports tabloid Marca claims that Barcelona will not make a formal offer for Arsenal forward Adebayor before Barcelona forward and Cameroon international Samuel Eto'o (27) has left the club.

Catalan sports paper Sport meanwhile claims that Eto'o wants to know as soon as possible where he will play next season. On Tuesday all parties involved could hold a decisive meeting to accelerate the negotiation process. Although he has several offers on the table, Eto'o would prefer to join AC Milan.

Read more:
Eto'o wants to talk with Guardiola
Chelsea offers Malouda in Eto'o deal
Portsmouth favourites to sign Gudjohnsen

Arshavin putting pressure on Zenit

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Zenit Saint Petersburg forward and Russian international Andrei Arshavin (27) would not be wanting to play for Zenit anymore because the club isn't keeping the promise they made before that Arshavin could leave for 15 million euro°.

The paper says that the negotiations between Barcelona and Arshavin are well-advanced and that a deal with the player wouldn't be aproblem if Zenit accepts the 15 million euro° offer made by Barcelona.

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Russian champions Zenit are asking 25 million euro° for Arshavin.
Chelsea would have offered 22 million euro and Barcelona 15 million euro° but both bids were rejected (read more here).

Zenit thinks that Arshavin is a star player and is therefore worth a lot more than players like for example Seydou Keita (14 million euro) or Martín Cáceres (16,5 million euro). Barcelona would nevertheless not move from its original position and hopes that the wish of the player in the end will be decisive.

British tabloid The Daily Express claims that both Barcelona and Chelsea have offered 15 million euro° but that the player seems on his way to Chelsea. Arshavin would have told his club Zenit that he wants to quit and join Chelsea. Chelsea expects Arshavin to arrive this weekend in London for talks with his agent Pavel Andreev.

Chelsea owner and Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich is determined to sign at least one Russian player this summer and would have visited the Russian team hotel during Euro 2008 to hold talks with Arshavin trying to persuade him that his future lies in London.

Britsh tabloid The Daily Mail also claims that Chelsea has moved ahead of Barcelona in the race to sign Arshavin. The player will arrive in London today and an agreement could be found this weekend.

Arshavin’s family would be trying to talk him into a move to the Premier League with his mother Tatyana and wife Yulia both said to believe it would be easier for him and his two children to settle in England rather than Spain.

Read more:
Bid for Arshavin rejected
Pavlyuchenko new name on striker list
Ezquerro close to joining Olympiacos

Ex-Barça: Luis Aragonés to Fenerbahce

Former Barcelona manager Luis Aragonés (69) has today been appointed as the new manager of Fenerbahçe. The Spanish coach, who led the Spanish national team to winning the European championships last month, has signed a two-year deal with the Turkish club.

Arriving from Atlético Madrid in 1987, Luis Aragonés was the Barcelona head coach for less than one season. He took over from Terry Venables when the 1987-1988 season had just started and left the club a few games before the end of that same season, being replaced until the end of the season by first assistant coach Carles Rexach. Aragonés only returned to the bench two years later when he became the manager of Espanyol Barcelona. With Barcelona, Aragonés won one Spanish cup in 1988.

Read more:

Renewal offer for Xavi

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona plans to offer Barcelona midfielder and Spanish international Xavi Hernández (28) a contract renewal in the next two weeks.

Barcelona would offer the Catalan midfielder a financially better contract for the next five seasons. That way the player, whose current contract expires in 2010, would be rewarded for his good performances at the European championships in Austria and Switzerland last month.

Barcelona wants to act fast because his recent games with the Spanish national team have reactivated the interest of several European top clubs, amongst which Chelsea, Manchester United and AC Milan (read more here). Some of them have already contacted the player's entourage to learn more about his current contract situation and his wishes for the future.

Although Xavi would be attracted by the idea of playing one day in the English Premier League, his absolute priority is to continue in Barcelona for many more years to come, if possible until his retirement. The appointment of Josep Guardiola as new Barcelona manager is an extra motivation for the player to stay.

Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain has recently contacted the player's agent to inform him officially about the interest of the club to propose the player a contract renewal. A formal offer should follow soon.

pep's opinion:
a very good thing, xavi has been for years one of the most underrated players in european football. with his skills, he would be sensational in the premier league. he might return stronger than ever next season after the recognizition he has received for his euro performance. but if they would have handled this renewal a few months ago, it could have been cheaper for the club...

Read more:

Getafe interested in Crosas

Madrid sports tabloid As claims that Primera División team Getafe is interested in Barcelona midfielder Marc Crosas (20), who played on loan with Olympique Lyon during the first half of this year and who can leave the club this summer (read more here).

Getafe, who expects that more clubs could join the race for the player soon, has already contacted Barcelona to hear more about the conditions of an exit. Getafe is willing to accept a loan deal or a permanent deal with a buy back clause

Getafe officials have already spoken with Crosas to explain them the the project. The Catalan midfielder wants to play in a top league next season and would prefer the Spanish Primera División over the French Ligue 1. The entourage of the player thinks that Getafe is a good option.

Read more:

Friday 4 July 2008

Talks with Ajax on Henrique and Oleguer

Dutch football site Europe Soccer claims that Barcelona is holding intensive talks with Dutch club Ajax Amsterdam on the transfers of Barcelona centre and right back defender Oleguer Presas (28) and Palmeiras central defender and Brazilian international Henrique Adriano Buss (21), who is expected to sign a contract with Barcelona in the coming days (read more here).

Henrique would join Ajax on loan while Oleguer could be loaned out or leave on a permanent deal.

Read more:
Ajax wants Oleguer on loan
Ajax confirms Henrique loan deal possible
Ajax wants Gai Assulin on loan

Bid for Arshavin rejected

Asked about the rumours linking Zenit Saint Petersburg forward and Russian international Andrei Arshavin (27) with a summer exit, Zenit general director Maxim Mitrofanov has said in an interview with Russian radio station Radio Zenit that Barcelona is the only club so far who has made a formal offer but that the Russian champions have rejected it and prefer to hold on to the player:

"There are currently a lot of rumours about a transfer of Andrei Arshavin to a west european club. Barcelona is the only club so far that has made an official approach. No other clubs, this means including Chelsea, have contacted us. The fate of the player should be resolved mid-July. Zenit's position is to keep our leading player although we will respect Andrei's wishes. But for the fee that Barcelona has proposed to us, we cannot sell Arshavin."

Asked about the rumours saying that Arshavin would fly to London to hold talks with Chelsea today (read more
here), Zenit spokesman Alexei Blinov said in an interview with Russian news agency RIA Novosti that the club was unaware of that: "We saw the news but we have no information about that. Arsahvin took normally part in the training session today."

Zenit manager Dick Advocaat has said to journalists today that it's not yet sure what will happen with the player: "There's no final decision taken yet whether he will remain at the club or not. I expect everything to be clear and decided upon two weeks from now."

Van der Vaart would consider Barcelona offer

Asked about the rumours linking Hamburg attacker and Dutch international Rafael van der Vaart (25) with a summer exit, new Hamburg manager Martin Jol has said in an interview with the club's official website that the player, whose contract expires in 2010, would seriously consider a proposal coming from the Primera División:

"My assistant Zeljko Petrovic has talked with him by phone and Rafael has repeated that he would like to stay with the club. He loves Hamburg. But of course he could think about a transfer if a club like Barcelona or Real Madrid would make an offer. He has already indicated that in the past. Normally you know more around this time of the year, but in this case it's different. He's a very important player for us, but if he leaves we'll just keep on breathing."

Read more:

Barça B: Chico could continue and be promoted

Cádiz local newspaper Diario de Cádiz claims that new Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola wants Cádiz central defender José Manuel "Chico" Flores (21), who joined Barcelona B on loan in January but has now still two years left on his contract with Cádiz, to take part in the first team pre-season (read more here).

Barcelona is expected to make a formal offer to third division team Cádiz soon. Chico's agents had a meeting with Cádiz officials last week during which the situation of the player was discussed.

Asked about the possibility of a permanent transfer to Barcelona, Chico said to the paper that he's waiting to see what will happen: "They have talked about the issue with me and of course I would like to do the pre-season and go to Scotland and the United States, but it doesn't depend on me. I thank Guardiola for the confidence but I still have a contract with Cádiz and if they don't want to listen to offers that could come in, I will have to accept that. It could anyhow be a somewhat turbulent summer because I could have several interesting options."

Cádiz local newspaper La Voz de Cádiz also claims that Barcelona is ready to start negotiating with Cádiz on a possible transfer of the central defender.

Asked about his situation, Chico said to the paper that he prefers not to return to Cádiz: "So far, it has been a wonderful year to me. My idea is now to try to take advantage of this season and to stay on this train, that comes by only once in a lifetime. With all the offers that I have on the table, I have to aim higher. But I know I still have a contract, so I hope to talk with the club after my holiday."

Madrid sports tabloid Marca claims that an option to buy Chico for 6 million euro° expired at the end of May. Barcelona let this deadline go by and would now come with an offer that is quite lower than that fee. The tabloid claims that Barcelona could buy Chico and then loan him out so he can gain some more experience.

Read more:
Which B players could be promoted?
Barcelona denies Valiente exit
Victor Sanchez ignorant on first team promotion

Silva not pronouncing on Barcelona interest

Asked about the interest of other clubs and the statements by Valencia president Morera that both he and David Villa will not leave the club this summer (read more here), Valencia left winger and Spanish international David Silva (22) said in an interview with Madrid sport tabloid As that his near future depends on Valencia:

"Well, that's something for the club to decide. I have always said that I feel very comfortable here in Valencia and I have a contract, so now things depend on what the club wants to do me. Wherever I will play next season, I want my play to get better and to have a good year."

Asked about the rumours linking him with a summer move to Barcelona (read more here), Silva said to journalists at a reception offered by his regional government that he didn't want to speak about the issue: "I am here to enjoy my holiday with my family. I am a Valencia player at this moment, the rest we'll see later on."

Read more here:

First Tottenham training session for Giovani

English Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur started the pre-season yesterday with a first training session. Former Barcelona player Giovani dos Santos met with his new team-mates.

Read the complete Giovani dos Santos transfer story from the first rumours until the official confirmation

Alves' first interview

New Barcelona defender Daniel Alves gave an exclusive interview to the club's official media. Some quotes:

How have you improved in your years at Sevilla ?
You get more mature and learn things. When you are young these things don’t even enter your head, you just want to play, it’s not important, but when you start looking back you realise just how much you have learned. Attacking is not enough, I think I have matured over time. Now I have found that balance in the way I play.

What convinced you about Barça?
The way they play. I have enjoyed the games I have seen. And their style of play also seduced me, and their aim to win titles, because I am also ambitious like that. The new club project and the faith they have shown in me helped me make my decision.

Do you feel more of a right back because you can influence the game from there?
I don’t think playing as right back is contradictory to playing football. I also like offensive football, it is the best thing about the game. I find the position comfortable, very normal. Also, when I started playing I always wanted to feel I was somebody that could bring something different and better to the game. And it is through thinking like that that I am where I am today, and I won’t change the way I think. Although I can adapt to any circumstances.

Perhaps when Barça plays a 4-3-3 system, you might have to play in right midfield. Well, I have the right characteristics, I’ll adapt to whatever is needed for the good of the team. I could open the pitch from that position.

Messi and you could make a great right hand side of the pitch.
Messi is an incredible player, very intelligent. If we understand each other well, I am sure the fans with be grateful for it.

What will you say to the fans?
What I can say is that I am a very hard working player. They say I change when I’m on the pitch. Off it, I’m laid back, but on it, I like to fight as hard as I have to. I am very excited about this new stage of my life and I am the first to want to win titles and to do that I want to try to contribute all I can.

Read the whole interview here

Read the complete Dani Alves transfer story from the first rumours to the official presentation

Read the first interviews of Seydou Keita, Gerard Piqué and Martín Cáceres

Ex-Barça: Mark Hughes to Manchester City

Former Barcelona forward Mark Hughes (44) has last month been appointed as new manager of English Premier League club Manchester City. The Welshman left Blackburn Rovers, where he was head coach over the last four years, to sign a three-year conctract with City.

Arriving in 1986 from Manchester United, Mark Hughes played one season for Barcelona. One year after his arrival, he was loaned out to German champions Bayern Munich and in 1988 Hughes was sold back to Manchester United.

Read more:
Ex-Barça: Fabio Rochemback
Ex-Barça: Frank de Boer
Ex-Barça: Víctor Muñoz

Shevchenko prefers to stay with Chelsea

British tabloid The Daily Star claims that the first option of Chelsea forward and Ukrainian international Andriy Shevchenko (31) is to keep on playing at Chelsea next season.

Asked about the rumour linking the striker with a summer move to Barcelona (read more here), a friend of the player is quoted by the tabloid as saying that Shevchenko is already preparing for the start of the new season on Monday:

"Andriy definitely wants to stay at Chelsea and the rumours about a loan move to Barcelona I don’t think are true. He has come back a week early to work on his fitness. It is not because he isn’t fit since he kept in pretty good shape during the holiday. It is just because he wanted to get prepared for the new season under a new manager. Scolari, it seems, has said he wants to have a look at all of the players before making any decisions."

British tabloid The Sun meanwhile claims that the possibility of Shevchenko going on loan to Barcelona has been discussed by Chelsea officials. New Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari would be considering releasing the Ukrainian centre forward.

Read more:

Thursday 3 July 2008

Verbal agreement with Henrique confirmed

Asked about the rumours that Palmeiras central defender and Brazilian international Henrique Adriano Buss (21) is on the verge of becoming a Barcelona player (read more here), Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain has said at a press conference today that the transfer is not yet finalized:

"Henrique is not yet a Barcelona player cause nothing has been signed yet. We held talks and we reached a verbal agreement with the player. But there are still some paper issues with Palmeiras left and until it's not signed, you cannot announce anything. The idea is that, if the transfer is closed, the player will be loaned out."

Read more:
Last details of Henrique transfer being resolved
Ajax confirms Henrique loan deal possible
Berbatov if Adebayor situation remains unclear

Crosas can leave this summer

Asked about the situation of Barcelona midfielder Marc Crosas (20), who played on loan at Olympique Lyon during the first half of this year, Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola has said at a press conference today that he doesn't count on the player for next season:

"I have talked to him and informed him about my decision. We will try to find another club for him, so he can keep on playing somewhere else. If that's not possible, he will do the pre-season with us and will be a member of the squad."

Read more:
Crosas will start the new season in Barcelona
Crosas could stay in Lyon
Barcelona forgets about Crosas

Final offensive for Arshavin

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona will launch today a final 15 million euro° offensive for Zenit Saint Petersburg forward and Russian international Andrei Arshavin (27). If everything goes like planned, the transfer could be closed before the end of this week.

Barcelona had already found an pre-agreement with Zenit before the European championships but the excellent performances of the player during the tournament and the interest of other clubs, have made the Russian club take a step back.

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that because of the pre-agreement and the will of the player to join Barcelona (read more here), Barcelona is not willing to enter a bid race with other clubs. A few days ago, a deal seemed to be very close but the interference of Chelsea would have avoided that a deal was finalized.

The paper claims that Metallurg Donetsk vice president Dimitri Sellyuk, who is also the agent of Barcelona player Yaya Touré, has been appointed by Barcelona to act as intermediary between the clubs.

Asked about the negotiations, Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain didn't really want to enter the issue at a press conference today: "The club is working on several options. Arshavin is one of them but I don't want to say more about it, I prefer to talk about facts."

Zenit sports director Konstantin Sarsania is quoted by British tabloid The Daily Star as saying that Arshavin and his agent will meet with Zenit officials today: "On Thursday, players from the national team return to our training camp. Arshavin and his agent Pavel Andreev are to clarify their position with us then. We do not want to sell Arshavin. That’s exactly why we need Andrei to meet the bosses of the club: to understand what he is really after.

My understanding was that he would like to go and play abroad. But he isn’t only interested in moving to Barcelona. There’s also Chelsea. Andrei never rejected the idea of moving there. The Chelsea managers know the situation and have already talked to his agent."

British tabloid The Daily Mirror meanwhile claims today that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has found last night a deal with Zenit and that Arshavin will now fly into London for talks with the English Premier League club.

A source at Zenit is quoted by the tabloid as saying: "Chelsea have been in contact, a deal has been agreed and Arshavin will fly to London to discuss terms. He was very attracted by playing in Spain but feels English football would suit his style better. And with Roman Abramovich involved there is another link and reason."

Arshavin said yesterday to journalists that he wishes to leave Russia this summer: "I've been very happy at Zenit and I will always be grateful for the chances they've given me, but I would like to leave for another big club in Europe. There's nothing concrete yet, it depends on many things, but I hope a deal can be closed soon."

Read more:
Formal offer for Arshavin
Arshavin confirms that he is a Barcelona fan
Arshavin scouting report

Wenger critical about transfer market changes

With Barcelona still interested in Arsenal players Adebayor and Hleb, this is an interesting article from British newspaper The Observer on Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger's view on the transfer market:

Wenger sees 'the end of transfer fees'

Arsenal manager says the power has shifted from clubs to players

Duncan Castles - The Observer

Three decades ago, when Arsène Wenger was earnestly failing to establish himself as a professional footballer of note at Strasbourg, the financial dominion of clubs went without challenge. No player left a team without the express permission of his employers. A club owned a footballer's registration until choosing to relinquish it for whatever price they deemed fit. When neither a new contract nor a transfer could be agreed, clubs could lawfully prevent their employees playing for any other club without paying him another centime.

So effectively did football control the salaries of its performers that the €20m (£15.7m) a season Real Madrid are currently enticing Cristiano Ronaldo with would cover the wages of an entire league season of the Wenger era. 'Inflationary' is one term the Arsenal manager uses to describe the transfer system that lends Ronaldo the confidence to demand his exit from Manchester United one season into a five-year contract. 'The wild west' is another he employs to capture the actions of players, agents and predator chairmen in football's new order. Allow its logic to run the full course, he argues, and transfer fees may completely cease to exist.

Though the market has yet to reach the stage where Ronaldo is free to march off to Madrid without compensation for United, the combination of external temptation and personal desire bears parallel to Nicolas Anelka's move from Arsenal to the Bernabéu nine summers ago.

'Contract-wise, the club is always in a weaker position,' said Wenger of the Ronaldo situation at a Castrol-backed Euro 2008 event. 'Why? Because clubs only have the security of a player now for three years. And that's why, when a player is in his second year, it's difficult. You are in a weak situation as a club.

'OK, you can think, "I can leave this guy here if he sulks and play him in the reserves." But it doesn't work. It's a good solution in theory, but on a daily basis it's impossible. That's why, in the end, I said I will only sell Anelka if he says to me, "I want to leave". What can you do with a player who doesn't want to stay?'

The legal framework gradually structured around football since Jean-Marc Bosman successfully challenged restrictions on freedom of movement in 1995 means that, in many circumstances, a club can do nothing. In the wake of the European Court of Justice ruling, Fifa drafted a set of internationally binding regulations determining the maximum length of contracts, circumstances under which a player could terminate them and compensation levels for transfers.

Introduced in 2003 and restated two years later, Fifa's 'Regulations for the Status of and Transfer of Players' is a 38-page document of intentionally convoluted legalese. While the compromise deal prevented more hawkish European Union bureaucrats from abolishing transfer fees in their entirety and allowed clubs to continue signing footballers to multi-season contracts, the shades of grey of several central provisions have gradually become apparent to those intent on negotiating increasingly grand remuneration.

Critically, the Fifa regulations allowed a player who agreed his contract when under the age of 28 to terminate it after three seasons 'without just cause' as long as he informs his club of his intention to do so and pays appropriate compensation. Though the level of such damages went unspecified, the test case that followed Andy Webster's decision to use the rule to leave Hearts for Wigan in 2006 determined that sum as the outstanding value of a player's contract (in the Scotland defender's case, £150,000).

The result, according to Wenger, is that a modern footballer's contract effectively secures a player's services for just two seasons, regardless of the length formally agreed in the paperwork. 'After two years you have to renegotiate your contract because after three years the player can move out,' Wenger says. 'You give longer contracts because it offers a little bit of protection for the player to have to pay compensation if he moves after three years - if you give a player a five-year contract and he moves after three, he has to pay two years' [wages].

'But, after two years, you have to re-negotiate with the player because he can move the next season; you have no choice. For me, this measure is inflationary. Why? Because after two years you have to sit down with the player, whether he has played well or not, or you will lose him. You can never get him to sign an extension to his contract for less - that means you will always have to increase his salary. They have created a situation where inflation goes through the roof.'

If that places in perspective Arsenal's claim that they tied Cesc Fábregas to a revised eight-season deal in 2006 (as five years is the Fifa-mandated maximum contract length, the agreement involved a non-binding 'option' to extend), the regulations for older players offer further grounds for concern. Individuals agreeing contracts after the age of 28 can terminate still earlier, at the end of their second season. As Wenger points out, the rule is unlikely to survive a legal challenge by a younger player seeking a second-season escape.

'In the past, you signed and you were there for life,' he says. 'Then you have seen Bosman coming in, then Webster. It looks like the balance goes always towards the player. And if you go to appeal, there is no protection any more. At the moment, after 28 you need only two years. I see the next thing coming is people saying, "Why is it 28 and not 27? That's age discrimination. Why do we have to wait two years after 28 and three years before?"

'If it goes down to two as well, you go from one extreme to the other. It could mean the disappearance of transfer fees.'

Arsenal are already suffering. This season past, Mathieu Flamini ran down his contract before accepting the richest deal offered to join AC Milan. Alexander Hleb's future is unsure after he threatened to terminate without just cause. And Emmanuel Adebayor's future will be determined by the club's response to Milan's offer to multiply his salary. On Friday Adebayor said: 'I am footballer, I have a three-year contract at Arsenal but as you know, a lot of clubs are interested in me. Arsène Wenger is like a father to me... but if he sells me for €50m, everyone is getting the benefits.'

If that should amuse the Italian, Spanish and French clubs who have suffered as Arsenal have diligently exploited the other end of transfer regulations to relocate their academy elite to north London, there is further encouragement for them in Wenger's analysis of the Premier League's status in the world game. An English club is yet to employ a World Footballer of the Year, never mind one in his prime. Just as Ronaldinho appears a probable capture, this year's champion-in-waiting is plotting his departure.

'You would want Ronaldo to stay and Kaká to come to England,' Wenger says. 'It looks for me that the financial dominance of England in the last three or four years has been rebalanced. Italy was knocked down and has recovered. Spain has moved up. Financially it will be more difficult to dominate as we have done in the last few years. Football dominance is linked with economic dominance. You have to give more money to the player who has played in Italy or he doesn't move.

'I don't want Ronaldo to leave, not at all. I'm for stability.'

Unfortunately, in the era of the €100m footballer, what clubs say no longer necessarily goes.

Read other external articles:
Euro 2008: Should we support Spain?
Deco and Marquez represented by superagent
Silva versus Arshavin (Times scouting report)

Pique presented

Catalan central defender Gerard Piqué (21), who signed a four-year contract in May (read more here), has today been officially presented as new player of Barcelona. At a press conference Piqué showed his absolute satisfaction with the transfer: "I'm returning home to realize my dream: playing with Barcelona. It's an honour to be able to say that I am a Barcelona player. The desire to play for this club is something I don't have with any other club. When you leave, there's a risk you won't be able to return, but I always kep the door open and the opportunity has come. From the first contacts, my clear wish has been to come back. I've always been a culé and this is a dream come true. I would like to retire here.

I nevertheless don't regret my years in Manchester. I have learned a lot and I can only say positive things about the club and about manager Alex Ferguson. Now it will be an honour to have Pep Guardiola, who has given so many moments of joy to the Barcelona fans, as a coach. I will try to learn from him. To be able to play again with players like Milito, who I know from my time on loan in Zaragoza, and Messi, who I know from my time here, will allow me to adapt a little quicker to the team. I have a great relationship with both and the two learned me a lot.

I don't want to prove anything so I'm coming here without any pressure but with a lot of motivation and ambition. I want to help the club winning trophies. This club means a lot to me and I think that with the new coach and the transfers that they are doing, we will be able to stop the bad times."

Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola said that he was pleased with the arrival of the central defender: "We are convinced that we have done a great transfer. Piqué is a player with excellent physical abilities, a quality player with a good long ball, who above all that knows the club inside out. The reports of my assistent Tito Vilanova, who has been Piqué's coach some years ago, were decisive in our decision to take the player into consideration. His years in Manchester have confirmed the expectations the club had when he was part of the youth academy. But a player can always get better and we will try to make sure he'll keep on growing here. I also plan to use Piqué more as central defender than as defensive midfielder."

Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain stressed the fact that the player really wanted to return to Barcelona: "Gerard Piqué has shown the clear will to come back and he has done everything that was possible to achieve that. When he left, we kept on following him closely and we always received good scouting reports about him. For a player to return the circumstances have to be right and this time they were. We also have to thank Manchester that they have listened to the player and that they didn't play it hard, despite the fact that they had better offers for him."

Read the complete Gerard Piqué transfer story from the first rumours to the official presentation

Look back at the presentations of Keita, Cáceres and Alves

Messi's father leaves Italy door open

Asked about the future of his son, Jorge Messi (picture on the right), the father and agent of Barcelona right wing attacker and Argentinian international Lionel Messi (21), said in an interview with Italian sports site Sportal that the player might end up in Italy one day:

"For the moment we are only thinking of Barcelona, which is like a second home for Leo. He wants to return to his best level after the injuries he had over the last seasons. But it's clear that playing in Italy is the dream of every player, including my son. And since no one knows what the future might hold, let's say that it's possible that this desire may come true sooner or later."

About a possible approach by Italian champions Inter Milan, whose president Massimo Moratti is known to be an admirer of the player (read more here), Messi's father suggested that there have been some vague contacts in the past: "Let's just say there hasn't been any serious contact. There's nothing concrete and I prefer not to add anything to that. But I repeat that things might change in the future."

Read more:

Barcelona won't push for Madrid youngster

Madrid sports tabloid Marca claims that Barcelona is no longer interested in Real Madrid B central midfielder and Spanish youth international Dani Parejo (19) (read more here).

New Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola considers the player to be one of the most promising young talents of Spanish football but Barcelona president Joan Laporta doesn't want the operation to create a conflict between the two clubs, who have at this moment an excellent relation on board level.

Parejo, who is representented by sports agency Bahía International, has a buyout clause of 15 million euro°. It is expected that the player will next season play on loan with a Primera División team.

Read more:

Chelsea offers Malouda in Eto'o deal

British tabloid The Sun claims that Chelsea has offered Chelsea left winger and French international Florent Malouda (28) as part of a 22,5 million euro° bid for Barcelona forward and Cameroon international Samuel Eto'o (27).

New Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari would have made Eto'o his next top target and Chelsea is cofident to be able to reduce the striker's record salary demands by offering him signing-on and loyalty bonuses.

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Eto'o prefers to join Chelsea, with one of the reasons being that he would like to team up again with new Chelsea midfielder Deco, who has been his team-mate in Barcelona over the last four years.

Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain said yesterday at a press conference that Eto'o and Ronaldinho have the club's permission to talk with other clubs but that there are no new events, admitting that a transfer won't be easy:

"We are waiting for concrete offers. I understand that it's difficult for them to reach agreements with other clubs. Once they have, the clubs can contact us and we can start negotiating but we certainly won't hurry things. We have to keep in mind that there aren't many clubs in the world who are able and willing to pay those amounts."

Read more:
Eto'o wants to talk with Guardiola
Malouda is on the list
Eto'o will make a decision soon

Transfer period could end on Sunday

Asked about the consequences of Sunday's confidence vote on the transfer policy, Barcelona president Joan Laporta has said at a press conference yesterday that if the current board would lose the vote and would be replaced by an interim board until the elections a few months later, no transfer activity could be carried out from next week on:

"If the vote succeeds, the election period starts with presidential elections to be held in the next three months. Meanwhile an interim committee will be put in place who could only perform acts of administration, which means that no transfers could be done. That's why I hope the vote fails, so we don't have to go through an uncertain and unstable period."

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo, who is in favour of the vote and against the current board, claims that several lawyers have confirmed that buying and selling players in a transfer period is a normal thing to do for a football club, which would mean that an interim board can still perform those acts.

Lawyers consulted by other media like Catalan sports paper Sport and Catalan radio station Catalunya Ràdio seem to have various opinions on the issue.

The relevant rule 30.4.c reads as follows: "The interim committee exercices the functions of government, administration and representation that belong to the board, but limited to the acts that are necessary and inevitable for the normal functioning of the club and the protection of its interests."

pep's opinion:
reading the rule, i think it's pretty clear that "normal" transfers (meaning: transfers asked for and approved by the technical staff) would still be possible

Which B players could be promoted?

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that four current Barcelona B players will almost certainly participate in the first team pre-season: left wing attacker Gai Assulin (18), attacker Víctor Vázquez (21), polyvalent midfielder Víctor Sánchez (20) and wing attacker Pedrito (20 - picture).

Josep Guardiola has announced earlier that he could take up to seven players of the B team with him and then decide afterwards who will be able to stay with the first team (read more here).

Other players who could join in are midfielders Xavi Torres (21) and Sergi Busquets (19), left winger Jeffrén (20) and central defender Chico (21), although the future of the latter is unclear since he still belongs to third division team Cádiz.

Read more:

Wednesday 2 July 2008

Barça B: Barcelona denies Valiente exit

Asked about the rumours saying that Barcelona Barcelona B captain and central defender and Spanish youth international Marc Valiente (21) will move to Segunda Divisón team Sevilla Atlético this summer (read more here), something that this morning was also confirmed by Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain denied the transfer at a press conference today:

"There's no final decision on the situation of the player and the operation certainly has nothing to do with the transfer of Alves. The two things are in no way linked to each other."

Read more:

Transfer summer 2008: Overview


Seydou Keita
former club: sevilla
age: 28
country: mali

official announcement: monday 26 may
contract duration: 4 years
transfer fee: 14 million euro
note: barcelona pays the buyout fee

Gerard Piqué
former club: manchester united
age: 21
country: catalunya, spain

official announcement: tuesday 27 may
contract duration: 4 years
transfer fee: 5 million euro

José Manuel Pinto
former club: celta vigo
age: 32
country: spain

official announcement: friday 30 may
contract duration: 2 years
transfer fee: 0 euro
note: the contract can be cancelled by both parties after one year, pinto played for barcelona on loan since january, when barcelona paid celta 500 000 euro

Martín Cáceres
former club: villareal (on loan to recreativo huelva)
age: 21
country: uruguay

official announcement: wednesday 4 june
contract duration: 4 years
transfer fee: 16,5 million euro

Daniel Alves
former club: sevilla
age: 25
country: brazil

official announcement: wednesday 2 july
contract duration: 4 years
transfer fee: 29 million euro (+ 6 million euro variables depending on the ranking of the team and the trophies won in the coming years)


José Edmílson
new club: villareal
age: 31

country: brazil

barcelona player since: 2004
barcelona contract until: 2008

official announcement: friday 23 may
contract duration: 2 years
transfer fee: 0 euro
note: the contract of the player expired

Giovani dos Santos
new club: tottenham
age: 19
country: mexico

barcelona player since: 2002
barcelona contract until: 2009 (?)

official announcement: friday 6th june
contract duration: 5 years
transfer fee: 6 million euro (+ 5 million euro depending on the player’s appearances during his five years of contract)
note: when the player is transferred barcelona receives 20% of the fee during the first two years or 10% after that

Gianluca Zambrotta
new club: ac milan
age: 31
country: italy

barcelona player since: 2006
barcelona contract until: 2010

official announcement: friday 13th june
contract duration: 4 years
transfer fee: 9 million euro (+ 2 million euro depending on the qualification of AC Milan for the Champions League during the next four years)

new club: chelsea
age: 30
country: portugal (brazil)

barcelona player since: 2004
barcelona contract until: 2010

official announcement: monday 30th june
contract duration: 3 years
transfer fee: 10 million euro

OFFICIAL: Daniel Alves

Barcelona kind of announced today the signing of Sevilla right back defender and Brazilian international Daniel Alves (25). The player has signed a four-year deal including a buyout clause of 90 million euro°.

Barcelona will pay Sevilla a transfer fee of 29 million euro° (one source says 29,5) plus an additional 6 million euro° depending on (like explained by Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain) the ranking of the team and the trophies won in the coming years.

Read the complete Dani Alves transfer story from the first rumours to the official presentation

Alves presented

Brazilian right back defender Dani Alves (25) has today been officially presented as new player of Barcelona. At a press conference Alves showed his happiness about the transfer: "I'm very happy and honoured to be here and to arrive at the best club in the world. I chose Barcelona above other options because it's a great club and our interests are the same. In your life you need to have a clear idea about where and with who you want to be.

I come here to enjoy football and to reach my objectives. I will adapt to what the coach and the circumstances will ask from me. I will give everything to make everybody happy although I don't feel any special pressure. The club wants to return to be what they were two years ago and they count on me to realize that. Although it's gonna be difficult, I will work hard to achieve that goal. I want to win the trophies I didn't yet won. I have four years to do that, but the sooner, the better."

Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola looked forward to the right wing connection between Alves and Messi: "I hope the two players will connect well and that they will form the best right wing in the world. But they have to think about the group, with 11 individuals you don't get anywhere. We'll try to play with Messi closer to the box, he can play everywhere but his movements have the be compensated by the others."

Like Barcelona president Joan Laporta, Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain insisted that Barcelona hasn't paid too much for Alves: "We have paid the right market price. Two years ago we bought Zambrotta, who asked us to leave this summer, so we had to look for another player. I think now we have the best player on his position, because of his attacking way of playing, his quality and his effectiveness. He also has a good personality and he wants to be part of a group. And on the pitch he always takes his responsability. I also want to thank the player for the effort he has done to join Barcelona because he had better proposals."

Read the complete Dani Alves transfer story from the first rumours to the official presentation

Look back at the presentations of Keita and Cáceres

Custom Search
Custom Search