Saturday 12 July 2008

Ronaldinho agrees new terms with Milan

Italian sports paper La Gazzetta dello Sport claims that Barcelona playmaker and Brazilian international Ronaldinho (28) agreed terms with AC Milan.

Roberto de Assis, Ronaldinho's brother and agent, closed yesterday evening a deal on a two-year contract worth 6,5 million euro plus incentives a year. That way Milan just takes over the contract that the Brazilian has at this moment with Barcelona.

Milan wants to close now as soon as possible a deal with Barcelona. Although Barcelona would already have dropped the asking price to 25 million euro°, Milan holds on to their intial offer of 15 million euro°. Milan vice president Adriano Galliani could travel in the coming days to Barcelona to sign the deal.

Read more:
Ronaldinho agrees terms with Milan
Ronaldinho has to report for training next week
Ronaldinho to Milan: principal agreement

Could Cruijff save Laporta?

Madrid sports tabloid Marca claims that Barcelona president Joan Laporta is thinking about appointing former Barcelona player and manager Johan Cruijff (61) as new Barcelona sports director.

After losing but narrowly surviving the vote of no confidence last Sunday and ahead of the general assembly that will decide on his future in a few months time, this would be one of the measures Laporta wants to take to regain the confidence of the socio's.

pep's opinion:

Transfer of Hernanes less likely

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that the transfer of São Paulo attacking midfielder and Brazilian international Hernanes (23) is getting more and more unlikely.

With the Brazilian club having rejected a 15 million euro° offer and holding on to the buyout fee of 25 million euro° (read more here), the difference between the two clubs stays too big and none of them seems ready to move. The probable transfer of Arsenal player Alexander Hleb will have as a consequence that Barcelona doesn't really need to buy the Brazilian midfielder anymore.

Brazilian sports marketing agency Traffic, that represents Hernanes and ownes a small part of his transfer rights, nevertheless thinks that the case is not yet closed and that Hernanes, who already has a personal pre-agreement with Barcelona (read more here), could still sign with Barcelona later this summer.

Read more:
New offer for Hernanes coming up
Principal agreement on Hleb
Sao Paulo holding on to Hernanes buyout fee

Giovani says goodbye (part 2)

Former Barcelona player Giovani dos Santos gave in the beginning of last week
'goodbye' interviews to both main Catalan sport papers. These are the most interesting
quotes from the interview he gave to Catalan sports paper
El Mundo Deportivo.

You joined Barcelona's first team at a very early age but after one year you already leave for the Premier League. Why?
I decided to leave to be able to grow as a player. There I will have more playing time and that's what I need. My decision has only been based on sporting reasons. I wanted to play more and Tottenham gave me the opportunity. I also had good offers from Chelsea, Manchester United and Ajax, but I like the project of Juande Ramos a lot. I want to achieve great things with the 'Spurs'.

What will your role be at Tottenham?
I will play as number '10', my favourite position. The project of Ramos is very ambitious and everyone is very . They call me, ask me about my foot, they make me feel loved and important.

When did you take the decision to leave?
Last December. My agent Pini Zahavi told it to Barcelona and I also talked about it with Txiki Begiristain. I could have already left in January, but I wasn't allowed to. Even now they still wanted me to stay, but I had made up my mind.

What did Txiki say?
He respected my decision and I thank him for that. He said that I would always be welcome and he wished me the best for the future.

It wasn't an option to leave on loan?
No, I wanted a permanent deal. A cycle has ended and that's it. Maybe one day I will return to Barcelona - I actually would like that - but it will certainly be under different circumstances.

Guardiola talked to you?
No, because I already made clear that I wanted to leave.

Tottenham also wanted to include your brother Jonathan in the operation.
Yes, they did but he will stay in Barcelona. For me, this will be another way to stay connected with Barcelona.

What did the people say to you?
On the streets or at the club they all asked me to stay. I want to thank all of them for showing their support and their love. That's one of the nice things I will take with me.

But they've also whistled you here...
Yes, but that has helped me a lot to mature. It's something that happened, of course it's wasn't a nice thing, but I learned from it how to behave in the difficult moments and that's why I'm even almost thankful for those whistles, even when they hurt a lot at the time. It maybe was something like a warning sign to me, I guess it happened for a reason. I leave only remembering the positive things. I was lucky and privileged to grow as a player in a club like Barcelona and you cannot forget that.

What caused the pre-season top goalscorer asking to leave the club at the end of the season?
Maybe I wanted to show too much instead of just being myself. In the beginning I enjoyed everything and didn't feel any pressure, but in a way I later wasn't Giovani anymore. Because of my age, I didn't really realize that I wasn't doing the right things, although at the end I found the right track and I was just myself again.

How is your foot now?
The operation was a success, my ankle is in perfect conditions. Everything feels comfortable and I can make all movements without any problem.

Why didn't you get operated earlier?
Because I felt I had to sacrifice myself for the team. There were a lot of players who were unavailable. I played with injections and a lot of pain, sometimes I just couldn't shoot on goal. But the most important thign was to help the team.

You have been able to say goodbye to Rijkaard or the team-mates?
No. They were at the European championship or on holiday. I sure want to thank Rijkaard for his unconditional support, even when he also was living difficult moments. But I will come back later to say goodbye in a proper way. One of the days I will come to Barcelona with the permission of Tottenham.

Read here the most interesting quotes of the interview he gave to Catalan sports paper Sport

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

Barça B: Deal with Longas (Zaragoza)

Aragón regional sports paper Equipo claims that Barcelona has found an agreement with Zaragoza midfielder Antonio Longás (23), who would join Barcelona B for the next two years.

Barcelona would now be negotiating with second division team Zaragoza and it is expected the deal could be closed and announced in the coming days.

Longás played the 2006-2007 season with Zaragoza in the Primera División and was last season loaned out to second division team Tenerife. Despite offers from several second division teams, the Spanish midfielder has chosen to accept the offer from third division team Barcelona B after good talks with the Barcelona technical staff, who left the possibility open for the player to be promoted to the first team.

After being told that his current club doesn't really count on him for next season, Longás asked to be able to leave on a free transfer, which was rejected by Zaragoza. Longás' contract with Zaragoza expires next year and the club wants to receive a transfer fee. Besides that, Zaragoza would want to have the right to buy the player back or to receive a percentage of the transfer fee if the player leaves Barcelona.

Read more:

The transfer summer so far

The author isn't always accurate in his statements - I don't think he has seen a lot of Barcelona games over the last year - but nevertheless an interesting view from football site Goal on the Barcelona transfer summer this far:

Barcelona Moving Wisely?

Looking at the background to Barça's summer transfer movements and examining how they're getting on in the market

Joe Barnes -

April 29th 2008: The Barcelona players trudge off the pitch at Old Trafford, a few pausing to thank the away fans for their support, but most keeping their heads low as they head down the tunnel. The team’s performance summed up their entire season. They had dominated possession only to give away a silly goal due to a lapse in concentration at the back. With the opposition sitting deep, Barcelona looked lost and totally out of ideas in the final third and were left, just like at Anfield a year earlier, searching for a goal that was simply not coming.

Two months and close to ninety million Euros later, a new, fresher team awaits pre-season training. With the departure of several members of the old guard (Gianluca Zambrotta to Milan, Deco to Chelsea, Edmilson to Villareal as well as Lilian Thuram and Santiago Ezquerro out on frees) the team has lost of a few of its ageing egos, so many of whom having become increasingly lacklustre over the past two seasons. Still however, there remains an elephant (or two) in the room.

Big Changes
Pep Guardiola made it clear in his first press conference as Barcelona manager that there was no place in his squad for either Samuel Eto’o or Ronaldinho, the two biggest stars of the double winning season. The case for the sale of the latter is obvious: ‘Gordinho’ is evidently un-motivated, un-loved and, if rumours are to be believed, cares more about partying than football.

A few weeks ago, a solution seemed certain with his sale to AC Milan almost confirmed. Now, however, the amateurish way in which his transfer has been handled (the top brass declaring he is not in the club's plans but then demanding in excess of twenty million euros for him) has led to Milan believing that they can now get the two time former World Player of the Year on the cheap. The standoff between the two clubs means it is looking increasingly likely that Ronaldinho may remain at the Camp Nou for another season.

In the case of Eto’o however, there can be no question marks about the player’s work rate, commitment, or even his form. It seems as though the decision to remove Eto’o from the squad is not being made for footballing reasons, with the motives probably being both fiscal and political. Barcelona need the money from the sale of Eto’o in order to purchase more players - that much is obvious. Why the club desire this is another matter entirely as Eto’o ended up being the league’s top scorer in terms of goals/minute ratio (averaging a goal every 94 minutes).

It seems that the current board feel that Eto’o is seen as one of the key members of the squad who has let them down over the past few years, and they are therefore keen to distance themselves from him (though if events over the past few days are anything to go by, it hasn’t helped them much).

The only case that anyone can build up against Eto’o is that he does not lead the line particularly well against burly teams, who sit back against Barcelona, a team like Manchester United for example. This was also evident against most of the British teams Eto’o has played against and if Barcelona want to mount a serious challenge for the Champions League, then perhaps Eto’o should not always lead the line.

However, that is not to say he should be sold. Eto’o has a huge amount to offer the team, provided that he doesn’t get injured for five months at a time. With Eto’o seemingly not interested in a move away from the Camp Nou any time soon, it could transpire that he too could remain in Barcelona for a while yet. One thing is certain: he is not a man to be bullied out of the door.

New Faces
Now to discuss the fresh faces coming through the door of the Camp Nou. With the defence last season being Barcelona’s main barrier to winning games in the league, it is encouraging to see that the powers that be have sought to remedy this area. The team’s most high profile signing as yet this summer has been the acquisition of Daniel Alves from Sevilla for a rumoured thirty million, rising to thirty five million euros. Though many would agree that this is a tad over-priced, Barcelona have received probably the best attacking right back in the world.

Alves offers Barca some much needed width, something that has become a rare commodity at the club since the departure of Ludovic Guily (with Messi, Ronaldinho and Henry always preferring to cut in from their wings onto their stronger foot), and this will allow the team to stretch opposition defenders more. A slight concern is his questionable defensive game, but if he can improve in this area, then he could end up fully justifying his inflated fee.

It was at the centre of defence that the club looked most frail last year and for this reason the club have gone completely over board with the purchase of not one, not two, but three twenty one year old centre backs. Whilst Henrique (who is soon to be bought from Palmeiras for eight million euros) will probably be loaned out to gain experience in Spain, Martin Caceres (twenty million from Villareal) and Gerard Pique (a rumoured six million from Manchester United) will certainly be members of the first team squad for next season, leaving the club with no less than seven players available to play at centre back next season. How Guardiola keeps all these players happy remains to be seen.

Further Up
In midfield Barcelona have strengthened with the purchase of Seydou Keita from Sevilla added to the ‘soon-to-be-confirmed’ transfer of Alex Hleb from Arsenal. Keita adds some much needed dynamism to what was a very static Barcelona midfield. As well as this, against physical sides it means that with the employment of both Toure and Keita in a double midfield pivot, Barcelona will be able to hold their own.

The signing of a utility player such as Hleb seems to underline a common theme in Barcelona’s transfers so far: the acquisition of both flexibility and depth in a squad which was drained of both for much of last season through injury (highlighted by the teams inability to replace Messi – something that Hleb may have been bought to do). This new depth offered in both midfield and defence means that when players are off form or injured then can easily be replaced with ‘like for like’ players.

However, there is a very thin line between having a big squad to provide healthy competition and having a big squad that causes resentment from players who are not picked for long periods. Therefore it is perhaps questionable that Barcelona still have two more players lined up for purchase: a left winger and a new number nine. Whether Hleb (or Iniesta) is employed to fill the huge hole left by Ronaldinho, or whether that job is given to a new natural left winger, for example Valencia’s David Silva or Chelsea’s Florent Malouda remains to be seen.

What does remain certain however is that Barcelona need a target man for those teams who are difficult to break down. Who this will be depends greatly on whether or not Eto’o will be sold, Adebayor and Drogba remain likely candidates if Eto’o goes, but who comes in if Eto’o doesn’t leave is anyone’s guess. One thing is certain, Barcelona need someone other than Gudjonsson to fill that role.

The work done by Barcelona in the transfer market so far has been good, on paper. However a great deal depends on whether these signings gel, and on Guardiola’s as yet unproven ability as a manager. Barcelona certainly have the squad to win both the league and Champions League next season, but whether they can avoid more nights like that of April 29th is still debateable.

Read other external articles:
Where was Arshavin all those years?
Deco and Marquez represented by superagent
Wenger critical about transfer market changes

Silva again left wing priority

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that, with a transfer of Arshavin now being excluded, Valencia left winger and Spanish international David Silva (22) is again the top priority of Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain for the left wing position, although Barcelona is also working on other options.

The paper estimates the value of Silva, whose contract with Valencia expires in 2014, to be around 20 million euro°, which is considerably less than the 30 million euro° that Russian champions Zenit Saint Petersburg are asking for Arshavin, who is also five years older than the Valencia player.

Barcelona already contacted Silva before the European championships in Austria and Switzerland (read more here) and despite turning the attention later on to other players, they never definetely closed the Silva option. The Spanish winger is at this moment on holiday but wants to be informed about any development concerning his future.

Read more:
Silva will stay in Valencia
Arshavin negotiations on a dead point
New Valencia CEO influences Silva transfer

Hleb transfer to be announced this weekend

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Barcelona will this weekend officially announce the transfer of Arsenal midfielder and Belarus international Alexander Hleb (27).

The agreements with Arsenal (transfer fee of 15 million euro° plus variables) and the player (four-year contract) would already have been closed a while ago and are now just waiting to be signed (read more here).

Hleb, who would have said goodbye to his Arsenal team-mates on Thursday and who could arrive in Barcelona this weekend, will be presented on Monday or Tuesday and will then immediately start the pre-season with the squad.

British tabloid The Sun claimed on Thursday that Arsenal officials insisted they had not yet agreed the fee. The English Premier League club would still be holding on to a fixed price of 18 million euro° but the deal was expected to be completed this weekend.

Read more:
Principal agreement on Hleb
Hleb wants to join Barcelona
Hernanes urged to focus on his game

Barça B: Offer for Ecija striker Nolito

Asked about the rumours linking him with a move to Barcelona B (read more here), Ecija forward Nolito (21) has said in a reaction to Catalan sports paper Sport that he hopes the deal will go through:

"I'm waiting to see what happens. Hopefully they can find an agreement. It would be really nice to play with Barcelona because I'm a culé since I was a little boy."

Until the end of June, Nolito's former club Valencia had an option to buy the player back, but at this moment the striker has a contract with third division team Ecija for two more years, including a buyout clause of 600 000 euro°. Barcelona would have made a first bid of 200 000 euro°.

Sevilla sports paper Estadio Deportivo claims that Ecija is willing to let Nolito go for 200 000 euro° plus some variables. Barcelona's first bid would come close to what the club is asking.

José Ramón Alexanko, the head of the Barcelona youth academy, is negotiating the transfer and already talked with the player, who is at this moment on honeymoon n Mexico. Barcelona would have offered a two-year contract with an option for a third year and including high incentives.

Read more:
Barça B: Nolito (Ecija)
Barça B: Luis Enrique building a new team
Barça B: Difficult talks with Zaragoza on Goni

Friday 11 July 2008

Gudjohnsen likely to leave this summer

Asked about the rumours linking Barcelona attacker and Iceland international Eidur Gudjohnsen (29) with English Premier League clubs Aston Villa, Manchester City, West Ham and Portsmouth, the player's agent and father Arnor Gudjohnsen has said in an interview with British television channel Sky Sports that the player will probably leave Barcelona and would be interested in a move back to England:

"I have seen some speculation about Eidur and Aston Villa, but I don't think he was very keen on that. I think if he was to return to England he would prefer to go to London or Manchester rather than Birmingham. There are a few clubs interested, but there is nothing serious at the moment. I think he will leave Barcelona and he is keeping his options open at present."

Read more:

Pavlyuchenko again an option as centre forward

Russian tabloid Tvoi Den (unconfirmedly) claims that, with the difficult negotiations on Arshavin and Adebayor, Barcelona has again opened the option to transfer Spartak Moscow forward and Russian international Roman Pavlyuchenko (26) (read more here).

Barcelona would be considering to launch a 15 million euro° bid for the Russian centre forward, who is expected to leave his club this summer and who is also monitored by several other European top clubs.

Italian football site Tutto Mercato Web claims that Barcelona is one of the four clubs in the running for Pavlyuchenko and estimates the chances of the clubs at this moment as follows: AC Milan 30% - Barcelona 25% - AS Roma 25% - Tottenham 20%.

pep's opinion:
because he was one month ago already once linked with barcelona, i watched him a little more closely in the euro games against sweden, holland and spain and i have to say i was really impressed by his performances. and not only because of that wonderful goal against the netherlands (watch it again
here). *** what i totally loved about him was the way he moves in the box, that is just world class. even being the sole striker and so kind of being covered by the two central defenders he always (al-ways) seemed to have no defender in a circle of one meter around him when a ball reached him. incredible. even in that terrible spain-russia game, he gave puyol and marchena a hard time in the first half. i'm pretty sure puyol would name pavlyuchenko if our captain was asked about his most difficult opponent during the tournament (ahead of guys like toni, ibrahimovic or klose) *** he seemed (based on those three games of course, you should see him in more games and in other circumstances to have a more profound judgment, plus: i would want to know more about his character) a very complete striker to me: strong, fast, smart, versatile, good heading, great long distance shot, good balance between selfish and eye for team-mates. maybe he lacks some scoring? and like he showed with russia he must be able to play as only centre forward in a 4-3-3. *** of course he's 26 and has no experience in a top league, so it would be a huge risk to for example take him as your first choice striker. although maybe on the other hand: who else is available on the market if you don't get adebayor and guardiola holds on to his preference for a strong centre forward? if eto'o would have stayed, i guess for that price pavlyuchenko would have been the ideal number two behind him. *** note: pavlyuchenko was apparently only russia's back-up for the striker position---i wonder how that pogrebnyak guy is like...

Read more:
Pavlyuchenko new name on striker list
Barcelona pushing hard for Adebayor
Where was Arshavin all those years?

Barça B - Official: Rayo

Barcelona has officially announced the transfer of Elche midfielder Rubén "Rayo" Rayos (22), who will play for Barcelona B next season.

Rayo, who played on loan with third division team Villajoyosa over the last two seasons (read more here), has signed a two-year contract and is the first signing of Barcelona B.

The club's official website describes Rayo as a left footed player who can play both on the wing as in centre midfield. In the 4-3-3 system that Barcelona B will play he could play as left or right wing attacker or as left attacking midfielder. His first quality is his good passing. Last season he scored five goals.

Barcelona B assistant coach Joan Barbarà (picture, on the left) describes Rayo as follows: "It's a very interesting player who we are already monitoring for a while. We had scouting reports that recommended his transfer. He plays as left wing attacker, which was a position we wanted to strengthen.

It's a very fast and handy player, very good in one-on-one situations. He could play in midfield but he's basically more a left winger. We also took into account his experience in the third division. We're very satisfied with his transfer and he looks very motivated to make something of it."

Read more:
Barça B: Rubén Rayos (Elche - Villajoyosa)
Barça B: Difficult talks with Zaragoza on Goni
Barça B: Talks on Chico

Van der Vaart to make decision soon

Asked about the rumours linking Hamburg attacker and Dutch international Rafael van der Vaart (25) with a summer move (read more here), the player's agent Søren Lerby has said to journalists in Spain that the situation of the Dutchman will be further discussed from next week on:

"There are a lot of clubs that are interested in him and we are looking at all the options. But he's on holiday and there's nothing decided yet. Of course he would like to play in Spain, it's a strong league. I think we'll make a final decision in the coming weeks."

Read more:
Van der Vaart will only leave for top club

Seven B players will start season with first team

Barcelona has officially announced that seven Barcelona B players will start the pre-season with the first team on Monday.

The only difference with the list provided yesterday by Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo (read more here) is that Cádiz central defender Chico isn't there and that his place is taken by Sergi Busquets (picture), the son of former Barcelona goalkeeper Carles Busquets.

It is expected that new Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola will promote some B players to the first squad this summer. The seven players on the official list are:

- right back defender David Córcoles (23)
- midfielder Abraham (22)
- midfielder Sergi Busquets (19)
- polyvalent midfielder Víctor Sánchez (20)
- attacker Víctor Vázquez (21)
- left winger Jeffren (20)
- right wing attacker Pedrito (20)


Read more:
Seven B players taking part in pre-season
Barça B: Talks on Chico
Which B players could be promoted?

Ex-Barça: Abelardo to Sporting Gijon B

Former Barcelona central defender Abelardo Fernández (38) has this week been appointed as new head coach of Sporting Gijón B, the second team of Primera División team Sporting Gijón that plays in the Spanish third division.

Abelardo has been coaching several Sporting youth teams over the last five years and was last season the coach of the Juvenil B team.

In an interview with Asturias regional newspaper La Nueva España, Abelardo says that he is delighted with the new challenge: "This is a reward for my work over the last years, I'm very happy and motivated. I still have a lot to learn but I'll try to give my best to prepare some players for the step to the first team."

Arriving from Sporting Gijón in 1994, Abelardo played eight seasons for Barcelona. In the summer of 2002 he left for Deportivo Alavés. With Barcelona, Abelardo won two Spanish league titles in 1998 and 1999, two Spanish cups in 1997 and 1998, two Spanish super cups in 1994 and 1996, one European Cup winner's cup in 1997 and one European super cup in 1997.

Read more:
Ex-Barça: Geovanni to Hull City
Ex-Barça: Meho Kodro dismissed by Bosnia
Ex-Barça: Víctor Muñoz to Getafe

Silva will stay in Valencia

Asked about the rumours linking Valencia left winger and Spanish international David Silva (22) with a summer exit (read more here), Valencia manager Unai Emery has said yesterday after meeting with new Valencia chief executive Juan Villalonga that it seems like both Silva and striker David Villa will stay at the club:

"I want Silva and Villa to stay and the club has already guaranteed their continuation. I'm convinced that both players will be key figures in next season's Valencia. Before talking about incoming transfers, the main thing now is to take care of the players who are already here."

Read more:
New Valencia CEO influences Silva transfer
Olympiacos considering offer for Crosas
Meeting with Silva cancelled

Thiago Neves (Fluminense) to replace Ronaldinho

Spanish football blog Futbolitis claims that, with the Arshavin and Silva options losing power, Fluminense left winger and Brazilian international Thiago Neves (23) is Barcelona's top target to replace Ronaldinho.

Thiago Neves, who has been selected to take part in the Olympic Games next month, would cost around 10 million euro°. The contract of the Brazilian attacker, who is represented by the Doppelpass agency, expires in December 2010.

Read more:
New Valencia CEO influences Silva transfer
Negotiations on Hernanes in last stage
Ex-Barça: Romario

Barça B: Rubén Rayos (Elche - Villajoyosa)

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that the transfer of Elche midfielder Rubén Rayos (22), who played on loan with third division team Villajoyosa last season, to Barcelona B could be a done deal.

Catalan sports paper Sport confirms the interest in the player and reports that he is on top of the transfer targets list together with Zaragoza B central defender Raúl Goni (19) (read more here). Barcelona B would also be looking on the European market for a right and a left back defender.

Read more:
Barça B: Luis Enrique building a new team
Barça B: Difficult talks with Zaragoza on Goni
Barça B: Pedro Garcia looking for Belgian club

The board crisis continues

Yesterday eight of the seventeen board members have resigned. Barcelona president Joan Laporta stays on at least until the meeting of the general assembly in September.

From a transfer point of view (which is still the main focus of this blog), it's is incredibly worrying to see economic vice president Ferran Soriano and sports vice president Marc Ingla leave at such a crucial time in the transfer period since they were the two people who were dealing with all negotiations.

Thursday 10 July 2008

Arshavin negotiations on a dead point

Over the last days the transfer of Zenit Saint Petersburg forward and Russian international Andrei Arshavin (27) has become increasingly complicated due to the fee demands of his team. Barcelona seems to have left the race at this point.

On Sunday, Zenit published a statement on its official website saying that Barcelona was the only club that has made an offer: "FC Zenit officially informs, that, as of this moment, there are no negotiations about Andrey Arshavin's transfer to any club. The only request about possibility of forward's transfer was the offer from Spanish Barcelona FC. Information in mass media about Zenit's negotiations with Chelsea FC is not corresponding to the truth. "

One day later, a new statement - that was only published on the Russian version of the site of the Russian club - said that Barcelona was not willing to improve its initial bid of 15 million euro° what has caused the end the negotiations.

Zenit head of administrative and legal affairs Pavel Pivovarov told British television station Sky Sports on Monday that Barca's initial offer was not enough to secure Arshavin's services: "We have received only one firm offer - from FC Barcelona - but now we need to negotiate the transfer sum. Nothing is decided. It's about him, it's about the club, whether we will be satisfied with the offer. Now, we are not." Pivovarov later added to journalists: "If Barcelona would double their first offer, we would consider selling."

In an interview with Russian sports paper Sport-Express a few days ago, Arshavin seemed to accept the postion of his club: "I perfectly understand the position of Zenit: the offered transfer fee is really too low. It seems that with Barcelona pulling back, one of my options for next season has failed.

I nevertheless still want to leave Zenit and play in a stronger league. It's strange how things are going cause it seems that my good performance at the Euro is turning out bad for me since that made the price get higher. There's some time left, so maybe it will be fulfilled later on, but for now the dream stays a dream."

Last Friday, Zenit manager Dick Advocaat had announced that Arshavin wouldn't play anymore for his team until his future had been resolved. Arshavin nevertheless already started a Russian league match yesterday.

Asked about a last update, Arshavin's presumed agent Dennis Lachter says today in an interview with British tabloid The Daily Express that Zenit is asking 30 million euro° for the attacker: "Barcelona failed with a 15 million euro° bid for Andrei and now an English club have had a 25 million euro° offer rejected by Zenit. Zenit wants 30 million euro°, so clubs who want to sign Andrei will have to get closer to that figure.

And I believe they will because there are clubs interested in Andrei who are trying to sell other players first. The figure is not easy to reach, but the transfer activity is beginning to happen and I am still optimistic he will join a big club. I don’t know exactly when Andrei’s future will be resolved, but we have until the end of August, so we are both fairly relaxed."

Read more:
Bid for Arshavin rejected
New Valencia CEO influences Silva transfer
Where was Arshavin all those years?

West Ham considering bid for Gudjohnsen

British tabloid The Sun claims that West Ham United manager Alan Curbishley could launch a 6,5 million euro° bid for Barcelona attacker and Iceland international Eidur Gudjohnsen (29) now that it seems clear that striker Zamora will leave the English Premier League club this summer.

Read more:
Portsmouth favourites to sign Gudjohnsen
Gudjohnsen wants to join West Ham
Gudjohnsen option as centre forward

Guardiola asked for three goalkeepers

Barcelona's official website reports that new Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola has explicitly asked the club to have again three goalkeepers in the first team squad.

Víctor Valdés (26), José Manuel Pinto (32) and Albert Jorquera (29) will occupy the three places. Last season Guardiola already had three goalkeepers at his disposal when he was coaching Barcelona B.

Barcelona goalkeepers over the last 15 years

2007/08: Valdés, Jorquera, (Pinto)
2006/07: Valdés, Jorquera
2005/06: Valdés, Jorquera
2004/05: Valdés, Jorquera
2003/04: Rustu, Valdés, Jorquera
2002/03: Bonano, Enke, Valdés
2001/02: Dutruel, Bonano, Reina
2000/01: Dutruel, Arnau, Reina
1999/00: Arnau, Hesp
1998/99: Hesp, Arnau
1997/98: Busquets, Hesp, Vitor Baía
1996/97: Busquets, Arnau, Vitor Baía
1995/96: Lopetegui, Busquets, Angoy
1994/95: Angoy, Busquets, Lopetegui
1993/94: Busquets, Zubizarreta

Read more:
Tottenham was looking for Valdes agent
OFFICIAL: José Manuel Pinto
Two years renewal for Jorquera

Meeting with Silva cancelled

Valencia regional radio station LP Punto Radio claims that a new meeting between Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain and the agents of Valencia left winger and Spanish international David Silva (22), Amadeo Rangel and Julio Llorente, that was scheduled for later this week, has been cancelled (read more here).

The arrival of Juan Villonga as new Valencia CEO (read more here) has made the agents decide that they first want to talk with with the new Valencia official before holding further negotiations with other clubs.

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Villalonga wants to offer Silva a tempting renewal, which would make the investment for Barcelona to sign the winger even bigger: not only should they pay Valencia a very high fee, they should also offer the player more than he can receive in Valencia.

Read more:
New Valencia CEO influences Silva transfer
Looking for a left winger
How things stand: Wing attackers

Barça B: Difficult talks with Zaragoza on Goni

Asked about the rumours linking him with a move to Barcelona B (read more here), Zaragoza B central defender Raúl Goni (19) has confirmed in an interview with Aragón regional sports paper Equipo that the clubs are holding talks:

"It looks like the clubs are talking. They told me something about it although I don't know much. For sure, there's nothing concrete yet and I certainly didn't yet recieve a formal offer."

The player would be delighted to move to Barcelona this summer: "Although I was born and raised in Zaragoza and the club means a lot to me, the interest is an honour because Barcelona is a big club. It would be a positive thing for my career to move from the fourth division to the third division, certainly with the senior team playing in the Primera División. But let's see what happen, I'm relaxed about the whole story."

The paper claims that the negotiations seem to be difficult and that a deal probably won't be found this week, which would mean that Goni, whose contract with Zaragoza expires in 2010, would start the pre-season next week with Zaragoza B. It is expected that more clubs will push for the player who made his debut with the first team of Zaragoza last season.

Read more:
Barça B: Luis Enrique building a new team
Barça B: Gai feels ready for first team
Barça B: Nolito (Ecija)

Trezeguet unaware of Barcelona interest

Asked about the rumours linking him with a summer move to Barcelona (read more here), Juventus forward David Trezeguet (30) has said at a press conference that he hasn't been informed about anything:

"Juventus didn't talk to me about it and my father, who is my agent, either. I'm very comfortable at Juventus but of course for every player it's nice to be wanted by a club like Barcelona with a coach like Guardiola and players like Messi or Puyol."

Read more:
Barcelona to offer Eto'o in Trezeguet deal
Adebayor main centre forward option
Vice president confirms Trezeguet off the list

Henrique will arrive next week

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that a total agreement concerning the transfer of Palmeiras central defender and Brazilian international Henrique Adriano Buss (21) has been reached (read more here).

Henrique, who can also play as defensive midfielder, would arrive on Monday in Barcelona to sign a five-year contract and to start working with the group.

The Brazilian player would do part of the pre-season with the first team but would then be loaned out for one year. Betis Sevilla, Ajax Amsterdam and Bayer Leverkusen are the three clubs that have contacted Barcelona asking for Henrique to join them next season.

Read more:
Verbal agreement with Henrique confirmed

Wednesday 9 July 2008

Ex-Barça: Patrick Kluivert to AZ Alkmaar

Former Barcelona forward Patrick Kluivert (32) started last week a one-year internship (as part of a coaching course) with Dutch club AZ Alkmaar, where he will assist AZ manager Louis van Gaal as striker's coach.

Kluivert played last season for French club Lille but didn't get a renewal due to injury problems. In an interview with Dutch news agency ANP, Kluivert says that he still didn't really decided to retire as a player:

"I give myself another month to find a new club. I still feel like I am a player. But if there are not decent options anymore, I'll be glad going on with the coaching course. With mister Van Gaal, who I already know my whole life, I cannot imagine myself a better teacher."

Van Gaal said he might consider to sign Kluivert as a player: "We're still looking for a centre forward, so if Patrick would be totally fit, I wouldn't have to look any further. At the moment he's here as a trainee, but I don't exclude anything. As a striker's coach he'll sure be valuable for us next season."

Arriving in the summer of 1998 from AC Milan, Patrick Kluivert played six seasons for Barcelona. In 2004 he left for English Premier League club Newcastle. With Barcelona, Kluivert won one Spanish league title in 1999.

Read more:
Ex-Barça: Mark Hughes to Manchester City
Ex-Barça: Fernando Navarro
Ex-Barça: Ronald de Boer

Principal agreement on Hleb

Spanish news agency EFE and Catalan radio station Catalunya Ràdio claim that the transfer of Arsenal midfielder and Belarus international Alexander Hleb (27) will be closed soon. Barcelona and Arsenal have found a principal agreement on the transfer.

An FC Barcelona source has confirmed to the news agency that Hleb will sign a four-year contract and that Barcelona will pay Arsenal a transfer fee of 15 million euro° plus 3 million euro° variables.

Despite having been on the verge of signing with Bayern Munich, who had offered Arsenal 18 million euro°, Hleb has in the end chosen the Barcelona option.

A few administrative details should still be dealt with this afternoon, which would allow Barcelona to announce the transfer tomorrow.

Read more:
Hleb wants to join Barcelona
Bayern rejects offer for Ribery
Difficult negotiations with Arsenal on Hleb

Barça B: Talks on Chico

Asked about the rumours linking Cádiz central defender José Manuel "Chico" Flores (21), who played on loan with Barcelona B during the first half of this year, with a permanent move to Barcelona (read more here), José Ramón Alexanko, the head of the Barcelona youth academy, has confirmed in an interview with Cádiz local newspaper Diario de Cádiz that the clubs are holding preliminary talks:

"We have talked recently with his club and his agent. You can't really say that we're already negotiating, but we are talking to know what their position is. I think we will know the final outcome in the coming days."

Although Chico could do a part of the pre-season with the first team and even travel to Scotland and the United States, Alexanko says that, if Chico is transferred, the central defender would start the season with Barcelona B:

"The plan is for him to play with Barcelona B, although it's obvious that if he keeps performing well, he could have options to make his debut with the first team. Guardiola knows him perfectly and he likes the player a lot. That's also why he explictly asked for his transfer in January. For him, it would be nice to know that Chico is playing with the B team and that he can always count on him for the first team too."

Read more:

Hernanes urged to focus on his game

Asked about the statements made by São Paulo manager Muricy Ramalho that the recent poor performances of some of his player were caused by the speculation linking them with a summer move to Europe (read more here), São Paulo attacking midfielder and Brazilian international Hernanes (23) has said to journalists that he doesn't agree with that view:

"Nobody can know what is happening in our heads. Playing good or bad, that's just part of football, for that you don't have to make guesses about what's going in our heads. I had a problem with my ankle and then I went to the national team, so I couldn't train with the group for one month and that's it. That's why I went to talk with Muricy. I explained him everything and hope he understands. I don't care if the press is commenting things, but inside the club it should be different."

His coach nevertheless sticked to his point in an interview with Brazilian sports paper Lance and said that he wants Hernanes, who has earlier this week been named in the Brazilian Olympic squad to play at the Beijing Games next month, should focus on his game: "It's natural he says this but we all know that these things have an influence. And that 's normal, especially because the guys are so young. I have told him to get his concentration back and to stop talking about the proposals. Let the agents do the talking."

Read more:
Negotiations on Hernanes in last stage
Pique presented
Hernanes will ask his club for an exit

New Valencia CEO influences Silva transfer

Juan Villalonga, former chairman and CEO of Spanish telecommunication company Telefonica, will sign today a contract as CEO of Valencia.

Villalonga has ambitious plans for the Spanish club but the media don't seem to agree on what this could mean for the future of Valencia left winger and Spanish international David Silva (22).

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that selling Silva is seen by Villalonga as a solution to deal with the club's debt of almost 400 million euro and especially with the short-term payments. After his notable performance at the European championship last month, Valencia hopes to receive a high transfer fee.

Because of the difficult negotiations with Zenit Saint Petersburg on Zenit attacker Arshavin, Barcelona's interest in Silva has been reactivated. Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain is expected to make a move soon.

Spanish news site El Confidencial and Valencia regional newspaper Las Provincias claim that Villalonga has decided not to sell Silva. Together with forward David Villa and right winger Joaquín, Silva should become a key figure in the new project.

Valencia regional sports paper Super Deporte claims that the new CEO hasn't yet taken a decision but that he will ground the decision only on football arguments. The main question is not whether Silva will be sold, but what a transfer would mean for the team. If the transfer fee of around 35 million euro° would help to build a better squad, a transfer is possible.

Villalonga now first wants to talk with the player when he returns from holiday. A final decision on the exit or continuation of the Spanish left winger is expected shortly after the meeting.

Read more:
Meeting with Silva this week
Where was Arshavin all those years?
Deal with Silva

Case closed: Guiza

Mallorca forward and Spanish international Dani Güiza (27) will not play for Barcelona as of next season, like had been rumoured over the last months (read more here).

Fenerbahçe has announced on its official website that the player will move to Turkey this summer: "Fenerbahce signs Spanish striker Daniel Gonzalez Güiza, just days after Luis Aragonés took over as coach of the Fenerbahce side. Güiza is going to come to Istanbul on Monday to sign the official four-year contract."

The transfer has been officially confirmed by Mallorca. Fenerbahçe is believed to have paid the buyout clause of 15 million euro° (plus vat).

Güiza's agent and girlfriend Nuria Bermúdez showed some disappointment about the past months of negotiations in an interview with Spanish news site El Confidencial: "Several Spanish clubs have circled around us, they told us not to sign yet, to wait some more... But we couldn't keep on waiting, we wanted something on paper. It's a shame that in his own country they don't want the European Silver Shoe. They use to pay millions for foreign players but nothing for compatriots."

Read more:
Barcelona taking part in reopened Guiza race
Case closed: Lahm
Case closed: Pjanic

Tuesday 8 July 2008

Ronaldinho has to report for training next week

Barcelona has announced in an official statement on its website that Ronaldinho has to report for training next Monday and that he won't be allowed to play at the Olympic Games. The statement reads as follows:

Ronaldinho, called upon for the 14th

The Brazilian player will have to report for training on Monday, the first session of the 2008-09 season.

FC Barcelona have announced that Ronaldinho will be expected to report for training on the forthcoming July 14. The player has been named in the Brazilian Olympic squad to play at the Beijing Games from August 6 to 24.

The Olympics do not form part of the official FIFA calendar, and no official decision has ever been made in that respect, so the club is under no obligation to allow its player to travel.
In recent weeks, technical secretary Txiki Beguiristain has reiterated that Barça’s objective has always been to have as many players as possible ready in time for the Champions League qualifying games.

FIFA Rules
FIFA’s regulations with respect to the release of players to represent their national associations states in article 1.2 of annex 1 that “The release of players … is mandatory for matches on dates listed in the coordinated international match calendar and for all matches for which a duty to release players exists on the basis of a special decision by the FIFA”.

pep's opinion:
hope they also informed the player or his entourage personally about this, cause this seems a weird (public) way of handling this. and what about messi then? does he also has to report? why isn't that out on the site then? hope the club's lawyers are right on this one. in other countries it's apparently believed that players who are kept away from the olympics by their club team are suspended from all offcial competitions during the games. can see us play with ronaldinho and messi in the champions league qualifying games and then be suspended for champions league football over the next five seasons cause they played. plus in those matches messi gets injured for six months. and ronaldinho too so we cannot sell him anymore in this transfer window. read - my - lips!

Read more:

Van der Vaart will only leave for top club

Asked about the rumours linking him with a summer exit (read more here), Hamburg attacker and Dutch international Rafael van der Vaart (25) has said in an interview with his club's official website that he only will leave when a big European club makes him an offer but that he thinks he'll still play in Hamburg next season:

"I already repeated so often that I feel incredibly well in Hamburg, that I love Hamburg and that I only will leave for an absolute top club. But apparently nobody is listening to me or they don't want to hear what I'm saying. I would like all the speculation concerning my future to stop now. If I will have something to tell, I will tell it. On Friday I'm back in Hamburg and as things stand now, I will play another year at Hamburg."

Read more:

Laporta could step down on Thursday

Catalan sports paper Sport claims this afternoon that, due to the pressure of several board members, Barcelona president Joan Laporta will step down on Thursday. His successor would be current first vice president Albert Vicens (picture).

Laporta denied this evening to journalists that he will step down and made clear he plans to continue with renewed energy after having survived the vote.

On Thursday there will be a board meeting where measures will be taken as a reaction to the "sweet defeat" last Sunday
and where several board members are expected to resign.

Barça B: Pedro Garcia looking for Belgian club

After a test period with Anderlecht, Barcelona B forward Pedro García Delgado (24), who played last season on loan with Spanish second divison team Burgos, was informed on Sunday that he didn't match the profile the Belgian club was looking for.

In a reaction to Belgian newspaper La Dernière Heure, the Catalan player said that he didn't really got the chance to show his skills: "Anderlecht has received me very well. But in four days of training sessions and one half game, it's difficult to show what you're worth. And in the test match, I had to play as sole striker and that's just not my position. I'm more a supportive player who is strong in one-on-one situations and who can create things. I'm not a box player."

Pedro García says that he can leave Barcelona this summer and now plans to stay in Belgium for a while: "I still belong to Barcelona but the club is willing to let me go for free. Guardiola has told me that, to relaunch my career, the best thing I can do was moving to a league like the Belgian. That's why I will stay here and train individually, waiting to find another club where I can do a test."

Read more:
Barça B: Chico could continue and be promoted
Which B players will Guardiola take with him?
Barça B: Gai feels ready for first team

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