Saturday 11 July 2009

The End

It has been almost one a half year and over 5000 posts but this should be the last day and post.

I've received earlier this week a job offer that gives me the chance to play in the Champions League of my profession. Intellectually (and yes, financially), this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance that I cannot let pass, so I've accepted the offer yesterday.

This sadly means that I won't have the time anymore that I think is necessary to keep up the level of this blog. The quality of the content has always been my main concern and quality asks time.

I didn't only bring the big stories that attract the most readers. I didn't only checked the main sources and took the most sensational stories from there. If there were five articles on a story, I didn't use one but I wanted to have them all included in my post. I actually checked my sources. I think I can say this has been the place, all professional sites included, where you have been able to find the most reliable Barcelona information.

It started as a little personal blog to keep track of what really was going on and it has been growing ever since. Over the last month we've again doubled everything one can double, visitors, visits, page views, revenues. Yesterday was the best day ever, the day before the second best. This blog stops at its peak and that's the way it probably should be.

The timing of all of this couldn't be worse, since we were just bringing new and enthusiatic people in and were ready to take all this to another level. I was very much looking forward to work together with a group of fellow culés, to work out all the ideas I had, but it wasn't to be.

This blog will stay up as a remembrance of the best season ever in the history of the greatest club. If you're going through a bad time, you can come and get some renewed energy here.

To avoid the cold turkey, I've decided to start two little new blogs:

Barça Cartoons will have every day one (or maybe two, but surely one) cartoon

The Nose of Txiki will have every day a translation of one (or maybe two, but surely one) opinion piece published in the Spanish or Catalan press

That last is something I wanted for a while, but I didn't have time for it. I think both blogs can give you some kind of inside view of what is living in Spain and Catalonia.

I have some more ideas, something about Spanish referees, the long awaited Ultimate Barça Wags blog, a Presidential Elections 2010 blog, but if I'll start one of those, that'll probably be for September. If it's good, I'm sure the word will spread again and you'll hear about it. You can also follow all my current and future Barça-related adventures on Twitter. If people have ideas or want to start something on their own and want my support or feedback, they know where to find me.

I want to thank all the people who have been involved with this blog, writing things, translating things, looking for things, sending me suggestions, offering their help. They made this blog to what it was. I want to thank you for reading and for spreading the word. It has been a pleasure working for you, you were a great public, take care.

Visca'l Barça!

Friday 10 July 2009

Video of the day: Iniesta

Quote of the day: Pele

A player goes to Real Madrid and kisses the shirt, only to change teams the following day, kiss the shirt of the new club and pledge eternal love. In truth, they only love those who pay more, and all this is dangerous for the future of the sport.

Pelé, former football player

First scouting report on Messi

Xavi Llorens has revealed to Barça TV the report he made in the autumn of 2000 about a diminutive player who was just starting out in the Barça youth teams called Leo Messi. Llorens then described the Argentine as "a little Maradona".

The autumn of 2000. Xavi Llorens, under-14s B team trainer at Barcelona, was tasked by the club's then academy director Quimet Rifé to draw up a report about a 13-year-old boy who had just arrived from Rosario and who might be joining the club.

"He's not much physically but he is technically superb and incredibly fast." That's how Xavi Llorens' report about the youthful Leo Messi began. Llorens was with the Argentine in the 2000/01 season, when Leo was going through a bad time with injuries: "I remember that he was very different on and off the pitch. He was shy in the dressing room and didn't say much, but he was bold on the pitch and did all those things we see now at Camp Nou".

The man who was Leo's first coach in the Barça academy thinks that now "Messi is the best player in the world. Kaká and Ronaldo are good, but what Leo can come up with out on the park is incomparable". The current women's first team coach includes Xavi and Messi "among the best five in the world".

watch a video here

Read more:
Video of the day: Ballon d'Or 2009
Pique reveals dressing-room secrets
Messi: "I never dreamed of all this"

Manchester City drops out of Eto'o race

English Premier League club Manchester City has put out an statement on their official website stating that they're not longer interested in Barcelona forward and Cameroonian international Samuel Eto'o (28).

The official statement reads as follows: "Manchester City has confirmed that it has ended its interest in bringing Samuel Eto'o to the football Club.

Speaking about the matter, club CEO, Garry Cook said, 'Samuel Eto'o is undoubtedly a fine footballer but the circumstances surrounding him were such that the deal could not be completed. We now feel the time is right to pursue other avenues and we have a clear and strategic transfer plan, which we continue to follow.' "

Read more:
Manchester United strongly interested in Eto'o
Eto'o decides to leave the club
The truth in the Eto'o case

Mascherano asks Barcelona to make a bid

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Liverpool defensive midfielder and Argentine international Javier Mascherano (25) has asked Barcelona to make a concrete bid.

Mascherano would already have talked with Liverpool manager Rafael Benítez to inform the coach that he would like to move to Barcelona but this didn't lead to any result. The entourage of the Argentinian would think that it's now up to Barcelona to make a move.

Read more:
Barcelona preparing bid for Mascherano
Laporta comments on the transfer market
Expensive Mascherano is not a priority

Juventus and Roma interested in Caceres

Asked about the rumours linking Barcelona central defender and Uruguay international Martín Cáceres (22) with a loan move to Juventus (read more here), the player's agent Daniel Fonseca has confirmed in an interview with Italian football site Tuttomercatoweb that the Italian club is interested:

"At the moment, there is nothing concrete. Juventus is interested in him, like several other Italian and Spanish clubs are like interested in him, but until now we haven't start any negotiations.

Would Barcelona be willing to let him go on loan? At this moment, no. The will of the player? His priority is to play regularly, it doesn't really matter if that's in Italy or in Spain."

Italian football site
Calcio Mercato meanwhile claims that AS Roma is also interested in Cáceres. Roma sports director Daniel Pradè would have met today with Fonseca and transfer intermediary Ernesto Bronzetti to discuss the situation of the Uruguayan centre-back. Italian football site Calcio News claims that Cáceres should cost 12 million euro° plus incentives, which would be too much for Roma.

Read more:
Caceres is an option for Juventus
Liverpool and Juventus interested in Abidal
Caceres could sign Zaragoza loan deal this week

WT* is happening with Villa???

What about Valencia?
Valencia has been a problematic club for a while but now it seems to run totally out of hand.

Last month, Soriano was as president replaced by Llorente. Now Soriano claims that a group of investors has a majority of the shares, that he's the spokesperson of that group and that he wants his seat back. Llorente says "show me the papers", Soriano says "I own this place, I don't have to show you anything". There could be a general assembly next month.

Besides that, we have a ghost firm in Uruguay, taped meetings, the Valencian maffia, children's drawings and ladies underwear. Now you can put all this together, because I cannot follow anymore. I'm just giving you the basic elements and you can do something creative with it.

What is Barcelona doing?
Basically, just waiting. And keeping Forlán warm. And looking for houses. And hacking Villa's official website. And trying to sell Eto'o to Manchester City. Although Laporta said today that Villa or Forlán will come even if Eto'o stays because they want to strengthen the centre forward position anyhow. Which should mean that if Eto'o leaves, we will sign both Villa ànd Forlán. And my source tells me that Keirrison is already in Barcelona.

What is Villa doing?
Letting his agent leak to the press that Soriano has promised him, when the latter still was president, that the striker could leave this summer. While Llorente said he can only leave for a "scandalously scandalous" offer. Which was apparently not the 25 million euro plus Negredo that Madrid offered, nor the 40 million euro plus Cáceres on loan plus Bojan on loan that Barcelona offered.

What's next?
Villa and/or his agent would next week meet with Valencia. Valencia at this moment means "Llorente", but could mean "Soriano" next week. Or "some Uruguayan kid". Who would then be bought by Wenger.

Conclusion can't even invent rumours that are a little credible.

Re-live the complete Villa transfer story

Future of Victor Sanchez still uncertain

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that the future of Barcelona polyvalent defender and midfielder Víctor Sánchez (21) is still uncertain.

Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain would have promised earlier this summer to offer the Catalan player a list of Spanish first division teams he could join on loan to have more playing time.

But since Víctor Sánchez, who would be willing to leave on loan, didn't yet hear anything from Begiristain, the player's agent has now planned to meet with the sports director at the beginning of next week to discuss the future of the player.

Read more:
Victor Sanchez will leave on loan
Deportivo interested in several Barcelona players
Deal on Victor Sanchez renewal until 2012

Chygrynskiy not a target anymore

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Barcelona has given up on Shakhtar Donetsk central defender and Ukrainian international Dmytro Chygrynskiy (22).

Besides the asking price of 20 million euro° Barcelona wasn't willing to pay, Shakhtar wanted to keep Chygrynskiy at least until the Champions League qualifying games the Ukrainian club will play later this summer. And since the rules of the competition forbid a player who has taken part in the qualifiers to play with another team in a later stage of the Champions League, Chygrynskiy wouldn't be a transfer target any longer.

Read more:
Negotiations with Shakhtar on Chygrynskiy
Chygrynskiy confirms Barcelona offer

Pique On Holiday

While most of his team mates frolicked in the coast of Spain,
Gerard Pique opted for the glitzy Las Vegas scene where he was photographed relaxing and enjoying the company of friends.

by xaviniesta, our reporter in las vegas

Arshavin dismisses Barcelona rumours

Asked about the rumours linking him with a move to Barcelona (read more here), Arsenal attacker and Russian international Andrei Arshavin (27) has unconfirmedly denied the new reports in an interview with Russian sports paper Sport-Express:

"That is nothing more than a rumour. I'm an Arsenal player and the only thing I am thinking about is preparing for the new season.

It's true that if they do not solve the tax issues in England, it's possible that they will see an exodus of stars. But, in my view, the Premier League is still the best. However, we will find out when we see what happens in the Champions League, of course."

Read more:
Arshavin possible left wing top target
Agent Arshavin invites Barcelona to move
Arshavin could be alternative for Ribery

Xerez interested in Barcelona goalkeeper Jorquera

Jerez de la Frontera local newspaper Diario de Jerez claims that newly promoted Spanish first division club Xerez is interested in Barcelona goalkeeper Albert Jorquera (30).

Xerez would already have sounded out the player on a possible transfer. Jorquera is reportedly willing to move to another club although his high salaray demands are at this moment an obstacle for Xerez.

Read more:
Jorquera wants to stay next season
Barcelona could keep the same three goalkeepers
Jorquera very close to Tenerife

Filipe putting pressure through press conference

Galicia regional newspaper El Ideal Gallego claims that Deportivo La Coruña left back defender Filipe Luis (23) could give a press conference tomorrow.

Filipe would have confirmed this to the paper when arriving in A Coruña yesterday after having returned earlier than expected from holiday to talk with Deportivo president Augusto César Lendoiro.

The player's agent José Carlos Lages told the paper that Filipe will travel today to Madrid to try and talk with the president about his transfer to Barcelona. If the meeting the player asked with Lendoiro wouldn't go through today or tomorrow, Filipe reportedly wants to make publicly clear that he wants to join Barcelona this summer.

Barcelona would have made a bid of 9,4 million euro° for Filipe: 8 million euro° would go to Deportivo and 1,4 million euro° would go to the Brazilian's former team Rentistas. The Uruguayan club still needs to receive money from Deportivo for the transfer of Filipe last year.

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain did not raise the first 8 million euro° offer like had been said before (read more here), while Deportivo is asking 12 to 13 million euro° for the Brazilian left back.

Read more:
Deportivo rejects new Filipe bid
Osasuna player Monreal left back option
Filipe putting pressure on Deportivo

No transfer progress despite the efforts made

Seen from the outside, it may look like we're not making any progress in the transfers issue...

...but I have to admit that from the inside, it looks the same.

(click the cartoon to enlarge)


see more cartoons here

Barcelona starts league against Sporting

Barcelona will start the 2009-2010 season on Monday 31 August at home against Sporting Gijón. The last game will be played in Barcelona against Valladolid.

Barcelona will play against Real Madrid at the Camp Nou on 29 November. The return game is on 11 April.

1 (29-31 August)

2 (12-13 September)

3 (19-20 September)

4 (22-23 September)

5 (26-27 September)

6 (3-4 October)

7 (17-18 October)

8 (24-25 October)

9 (31 october-1 November)

10 (7-8 November)

11 (21-22 November)

12 (28-29 November)
Barcelona-Real Madrid

13 (5-6 December)

14 (12-13 December)

15 (19-20 December)

16 (2-3 January)

17 (9-10 January)

18 (16-17 January)

19 (23-24 January)

20 (30-31 January)

21 (6-7 February)

22 (13-14 february)

23 (20-21 February)

24 (27-28 February)

25 (6-7 March)

26 (13-14 March)

27 (20-21 March)

28 (23-24 March)

29 (27-28 March)

30 (3-4 April)

31 (10-11 April)
Real Madrid-Barcelona

32 (13-14 April)

33 (17-18 April)

34 (24-25 April)

35 (1-2 May)

36 (4-5 May)

37 (8-9 May)

38 (15-16 May)

Thierry Henry Nominated For Golden Foot Award

Thierry Henry's excellent season with Barça has continued to earn him accolades. He has been nominated for this year’s Golden Foot award. The Golden Foot is given to players who are at least 29 years old and have had outstanding careers in football.

This is Henry's third nomination, the first one was in 2007 which Del Piero won, and the second in 2008 (the award went to Roberto Carlos). Other past winners include Ronaldo (2006), Andriy Shevchenko (2005), Pavel Nedved (2004) and Roberto Baggio (2003). A Barça player has never won this particular award.

This year, Henry is facing competition from the likes of Raúl (Madrid), Buffon (Juventus), Totti (Roma), Giggs (Manchester United), Figo (Inter), Trezeguet (Juventus), Ronaldinho (Milan), Beckham (LA Galaxy) and Gerrard (Liverpool).

The winner of the Golden Foot leaves a permanent mould of his footprints on "The Champions Promenade", sort of a "Walk of Fame" of international football on the seafront of the Principality of Monaco.

click here to vote for Thierry Henry

editing: xaviniesta

Guardiola gives green light for Forlan

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona could sign Atlético Madrid forward and Uruguay international Diego Forlán (30) this summer.

Although Valencia forward Villa stays the main target, Barcelona wouldn't want the planning of next season to be postponed too much because of the uncertain situation at Valencia and has started moving for Forlán by contacting his agent (read more here).

Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola would have given his permission to go on with the negotiations. Guardiola and Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain wouldn't be worried by the player's age since reports suggest that the player is behaving as an exemplary professional. The buyout fee of Forlán is 36 million euro° and Atlético Madrid wouldn't be willing to lower that.

Read more:
Barcelona reopens Forlan option
Deal with Valencia on transfer Villa
Forlan back-up for Villa

Osasuna player Monreal left back option

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona is monitoring Osasuna left back defender Ignacio Monreal (23).

Monreal, whose contract expires next year and who has a buyout clause of 12 million euro°, could be an option in case the transfer of Deportivo left back Filipe wouldn't go through.

Read more:
Andre Santos alternative for left back position
Deportivo rejects new Filipe bid
Maxwell alternative for Filipe as left back

Liga games could be played in the afternoon

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez will propose the other Liga clubs that every match day one game would be played at 3 pm in the afternoon Spanish time.

This would be a way to open up the Asian market for the Spanish league by reaching fans in Asia in prime-time. Barcelona would be in favour of the proposal.

Read more:
60 to 80 million transfer budget confirmed
Premier League Clubs Deep in Debt
Nike pays Barcelona treble bonus of 10 million

Robinho off the list

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Manchester City left winger and Brazilian international Robinho (25) definitely will not join Barcelona this summer.

Barcelona would have been informed that the attempts by the player to convince his club to let him go didn't lead to any result. The club would now have given up on Robinho and will now look for other options.

Read more:
Barcelona will try again for Robinho
Barcelona has been in contact with 22 players
Barcelona close to signing Robinho on loan

Barça B: Maric on trial at Crystal Palace

Former Barcelona Atlètic forward Goran Maric (25) is at this moment on trial with English second division club Crystal Palace.

Maric yesterday scored the opening goal in a pre-season friendly with the English club against Boreham Wood.

Last month, it was announced that Maric would leave Barcelona as his contract expired and wouldn't be renewed (read more

Read more:
Barça B - Official: Maric and Joni will leave
Barça B - Official: Corcoles to Recreativo
Barça B: Serbia thinking about Maric

[2008] Seven B players taking part in pre-season

this post was published exactly one year ago:

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that seven Barcelona B players will start the pre-season with the first team on Monday and will probably also travel with the group to Scotland (21-26 June).

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

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

Without any official announcement yet, this list has been confirmed later on by Catalan sports paper Sport.

Read more 10 July 2008 news:
Arshavin negotiations on a dead point
Meeting with Silva cancelled
Guardiola asked for three goalkeepers

Deal on contract renewal Marquez until 2012

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that a deal has been closed on the contract renewal of Barcelona central defender and Mexican international Rafael Márquez (30).

Over the last days there would have been intense negotiations and a principal agreement has been reached. The deal could be officially announced later today.

The last two issues that had to be solved would have been the financial incentives based on trophies won and the duration of the contract. In the end, Márquez would sign a new deal for two more years, until 2012.

* Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo on the other hand claims that there's no deal yet because there would still be financial differences. The player's agent e,rrique Nieto had planned to meet with Barcelona officials yesterday, but the meeting would have been postponed until next week. *

Read more:
Last-minute change to Marquez renewal offer
Marquez will next week sign two-year extension

Eto'o decides to leave the club

Both main Catalan sports papers claim that Barcelona forward and Cameroonian international Samuel Eto'o has decided to leave the club this summer.

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that the player's agent Josep Maria Mesalles has yesterday informed Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain about the decision.

It is expected that Eto'o will next week come out and finally give his version of what has happened over the past years. A press conference would be held in Paris on Wednesday 15 July.

Catalan radio station RAC 1 meanwhile claims that the entourage of the player doubts that Barcelona president Joan Laporta has tried to get in contact with the Cameroonian by phone like he had stated earlier this week, since no phone call has been received.

Read more:
Manchester United strongly interested in Eto'o
Laporta commenting on the transfer season
The truth in the Eto'o case

Thursday 9 July 2009

Quote of the day: Laporta

We could go into debt like Madrid
but it isn't our way of operating.

Joan Laporta, Barcelona president

Video of the day: Iniesta (and Guardiola)

Andres Iniesta, age 16, at the Nike Premier Cup.

Misunderstood Ribery wants to join Barcelona

*Ribéry rectifies*

I actually didn't say that I wanted to go to Madrid...

I intended to say that I wanted to go to Barcelona...

...but the thing is that I'm terrible at geography!

(click the cartoon to enlarge)


see more cartoons here

Deal on Keirrison should be finalized next week

Asked about the situation of Palmeiras forward Keirrison (20), the player's agent Marcos Malaquias has said in an interview with Brazilian news site Terra that the deal should be finalized by next week:

"He is training in a gym in Curitiba with a personal coach. He's doing his normal exercises. By next week everything should be clear.

Although a deal with Barcelona is still not certain, we're not talking with other clubs. We are very close to finalizing a deal with Barcelona but now we can we only wait. There are some bureaucratic details left but a final agreement is close. Barcelona is still not sure if he will stay or will leave on loan, and in the last case, to which club."

Read more:
Keirrison could be included in Bruno Alves deal
Deal on transfer of Keirrison
Keirrison to give press conference next week

Barcelona preparing strong bid for Bruno Alves

Portuguese sports paper A Bola unconfirmedly claims that Barcelona is preparing a strong bid for Porto central defender and Portuguese international Bruno Alves (27).

The offer would be around 30 million euro°, which is the buyout clause of the player. Porto wouldn't be willing to let the player, whose contract expires in 2012, leave for less than the buyout fee.

Portuguese sports paper Record claims that it's very probable that Barcelona will make a bid for Bruno Alves in the coming days after a deal on the transfer of Shakhtar Donetsk central defender and Ukrainian international Dmytro Chyhrynskiy (22) didn't seem possible (read more here).

Read more:
Bruno Alves doesn't know what future will bring
Keirrison could be included in Bruno Alves deal
Chygrynskiy confirms Barcelona offer

Pique reveals dressing-room secrets

In the run-up to the Champions league final, Barcelona player Gerard Piqué discussed his team-mates in an interview with British tabloid The Daily Mail.

Víctor Valdés
He's unbelievable when one-on-one with a player. The fact he's not in Spain's team is strange because he is one of the best five goalkeepers in the world. I like him because he doesn't moan when I am DJ in the dressing room. He also plays the piano.

Carles Puyol
Despite playing centre-back, I think he is best at right-back. He is like a barnacle or limpet that you find on rocks on the beach. You have to keep scratching away but still get little out of it! He is the captain, a good friend but an animal who is relentless on the pitch. If I was playing chess, he would be my rook. A tower of strength.

Gerard Piqué
What can I say? Scandalously good-looking (see my picture, above right). Talented on and off the pitch. There's nothing better than me, but maybe I could do with a little more confidence!

The daddy of the team. A real good guy. He is always concerned for the welfare of the side and asks questions all the time when we are travelling, making sure we are ok. Not played enough in key games but very reliable.

Best example of how good Barcelona's academy can be. He loves the ball more than anything else in the world. It is almost impossible to take the ball off him in training and if anyone does you normally get an ovation from the rest of the team.

Sergi Busquets
He is the rookie of the season. He was a striker and Pep changed him into a defensive midfielder. We call him Superman. You can kick him as much as you like but he won't feel it. He will be a reference point in world football in a few years' time.

Andrés Iniesta
Best midfielder in the world. You can study his hips as he is moving towards you but he will bluff you with his body. If Andres scored more goals he would be the biggest act in the world. Bigger than any singer! As a person, soft as a loaf of bread.

Lionel Messi
No 1 in the world. You can't fight against him, you will lose because he is quicker and more athletic than you. Not superstitious, but always wears his Argentina flag shinpads. I grew up with him here at Barcelona and he hasn't disappointed me.

Samuel Eto'o
We asked the coach and the chairman at the start of the season to make sure that we kept him. He had to stay, there's no other striker like him. He was having a bad time but proved to everyone that he is a top professional. He is fanatical about cars and watches.

Thierry Henry
He looks very cocky, but on a daily basis he has shown strong humility — despite being the best footballer in Arsenal's history. He kisses a tattoo on his wrist every time he scores and I have told him he is in danger of wearing out his skin, he has scored so many.

Yaya Touré
He always leaves everyone open-mouthed with his show of strength. Quiet in the dressing room but very friendly and never complains. He doesn't care whether he plays defensive midfield or centre-back, and we all feel comfortable whichever position he plays. Has some unusual dance moves, though.

Seydou Keita
The lungs of the team. He can run from deep and score, he is good in the air and cares a lot defensively. He doesn't know the meaning of the word 'no'. He says 'yes' to requests from the gaffer and ends up paying five times for it.

Eidur Gudjohnsen
The Viking or The Gargoyle. He has a special humour for the dressing room. He is always funny and cheery. Unbelievable first touch and is probably the best in the team with his back to goal. Speaks very good English and likes a party.

It doesn't matter how many minutes he plays, because he always gets a chance. Don't give him half a metre because he will take you to the cleaners. His body is like a snake, he can change direction quickly and can slip past easily. He is a kid in the dressing room but I am trying to make him become a man!

read the full article including Piqué's comments on his former Manchester United team-mates here

Read more:
The merging paths of Pique and Busquets
Pique: "Classical music makes me fall asleep"

Henrique will start pre-season in Barcelona

Asked about the future of Barcelona central defender Henrique (22) who played on loan with German club Bayer Leverkusen last year (read more here), the player's agent Marcos Malaquias has said in an interview with Brazilian news site Terra that he'll start the pre-season at Barcelona:

"What is certain is that he'll be in Barcelona on 20 July and in one week we should then decide if he'll leave again on loan or if he stays at Barcelona."

Catalan sports paper
Sport claims that the future of Henrique could depend on the fact if there will still be money left to sign a central defender after Barcelona has closed the priority signings.

Read more:
Henrique could be included in Bruno Alves deal
No final decision on Henrique
Henrique: "I think I can become a starter"

Deal with Valencia on transfer Villa

Football site Goal claims that Valencia and Barcelona have found a deal on the transfer of Valencia forward and Spanish international David Villa (27)

A source close to Barcelona reportedly told the website that an agreement has been reached, although no details of the fee or any of the Barcelona players going in the other direction were revealed. The clubs are expected to make an announcement soon.

Read more:
Joint offer for Villa and Mata upcoming
Laporta commenting on the transfer season
Looking for a house for Villa

Barça B: Botia and Sporting talking about loan

Asked about the rumours linking him with a move to Spanish first division club Sporting Gijón (read more here), Barcelona Atlétic central defender and Spanish youth international Alberto Botía (20) has confirmed in an interview with Asturias regional newspaper La Nueva España that he's holding talks with Sporting to join the club on loan:

"I know that Sporting is interested in me and that since a few weeks they talk regularly with my agent to hear about my situation. I'm also interested, it's good to know first division clubs are keeping an eye on you, that means I'm doing well.

My agent is taking care of everything and I sincerely do not know how things stand. I just know that both Sporting and myself want to reach an agreement. But I cannot tell you anything about the terms. I have one more year left at Barcelona, so that's why I would join Sporting on loan. If a club wants to buy me, they would have to pay the buyout fee.

At the start, there only were some rumours but a little more than a week ago, the contacts started and we're making progress little by little. I think it's a very good option for me. Sporting played attractive football last season and their fans are among the best in Spain. Everybody knows that and that's important in taking a decision.

We've talked about it with Barcelona. I'm not really sure yet if they want to let me go or under which conditions, but I don't think they would object me going on loan for one season because this would help me to grow as a player. I want to leave on loan for a first division club and at this moment the most likely option is Sporting.

I think now there's a chance of 50 per cent I'll end up at Sporting. It's the club we're talking with and my first choice. We're also listening to other offers, but Sporting is most interested. I think my two options for next season are staying at Barcelona or joining Sporting. If it wouldn't be possible to leave, I'll stay with Barcelona and make progress here."

Read more:
Barça B: Sporting wants Botia on loan
Three youth players to start pre-season in London
Valladolid interested in Barcelona B player Botia

Barcelona leads fight against racism

The European Club Association, UNESCO and FC Barcelona join forces for the inclusion of anti-discrimination and anti-racism clauses in new contracts with football players.

The 140 European football clubs members of the ECA (European Club Association) signed yesterday a Declaration reasserting their commitment to include anti-racist and anti-discrimination clauses in new contracts with football players. This Declaration follows an invitation by FC Barcelona to promote such clause.

The idea of an anti-racism clause in athletes' contracts emerged from the project "Youth Voices against Racism", an initiative jointly carried out by FC Barcelona and UNESCO and implemented through the European Coalition of Cities against Racism. The results and recommendations of the project were presented at the European Parliament.

ECA members intend to promote the inclusion of such clauses in the contracts to be signed as of today with football players. The President of FC Barcelona and vice-chairman of the ECA, Mr. Joan Laporta, chaired this event, that was also attended by Mr. Sergei Lazarev, Chief Struggle against Discrimination and Racism Section of UNESCO, Mr. Michele Centenaro, General Secretary of the ECA, and the former FC Barcelona player and anti-racism activist, Lilian Thuram.

"We have always rejected any form of intolerance both in stadiums and on the field, and we see football as an extremely efficient tool to fight violence and racism, and to promote integration in our society. I strongly believe in the power of football to fight racism and discrimination," said Mr. Joan Laporta. "We cannot do this work alone. We need powerful partners, such as Barcelona and the ECA," said Mr. Sergei Lazarev.

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Laporta commenting on the transfer season

Barcelona president Joan Laporta commented on the transfer events in an interview with Spanish tlevision channel TVE.

It's a player we're interested in. The technical department has made enquiries to know more about his situation but we don't know if things will get complicated because of everything that is going on at Valencia. We have made a very good bid. I personally made an offer to [Valencia president] Llorente. We're not talking about 60 or 50 millions here, it's closer to 40 millions.

If we can get him at a normal price, we're interested. He was on our target list but Bayern doesn't seem willing to sell him. Although they know we're intersted in case they would think about a transfer. Because of the good relationships between the clubs, they will keep us informed.

The whole situation with Eto'o saddens me because we have a good personal relationship. I've called him a couple of times, but I haven't been able to talk to him, I don't know if he changed his mobile phone or his number or if his entourage has said him something or they don't want us to talk or what is happening.

We've always had a clear and direct relationship. I would like to talk to him in a calm way because I really would want to know his point of view about what has happened. It's true that I've said him last year that I didn't want to see him ever again, there was some anger from my side. But we've made up since then.

At the start he wanted a good contract. We've already offered him a better one and now we've offered him two more years. He has said that he would think about it and we're waiting for his answer. If he doesn't accept the offer, the normal thing would be that he doesn't stay.

Manchester City has shown interest, we've explained them the situation but for now he's a Barcelona player. The thing is that his contract expires next year so we have to find an agreement. We more or less know what his plans are. I would like him to stay, although it's true that the coach in any case wants to strengthen the centre forward position.

We're not excluding any options and all the players we were interested in are still on the market.

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Laporta comments on the transfer market
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Laporta comments again on the transfer market

When do the current contracts expire?




Víctor Sánchez (?)



° Barcelona can buy Sevilla Atlètico defender Marc Valiente back at the end of the 2008-2009 season.
* Barcelona can buy Celtic Glasgow midfielder Marc Crosas back for two million euro at the end of the 2009-2010 season.

Caceres is an option for Juventus

Italian sports paper La Gazzetta dello Sport claims that Juventus is interested in Barcelona central defender and Uruguay international Martín Cáceres (22).

Because Fiorentina doesn't accept players in return, Juventus would need money to finance the transfer of Fiorentina midfielder Felipe Melo and could therefore sell Grygera to Panathinaikos. Cáceres would in that case be an option to strengthen the defense.

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Case closed: Asenjo

Real Valladolid goalkeeper and Spanish youth international Sergio Asenjo (19) will not play for Barcelona as of the coming season, like had been rumoured over the last months (read more here).

Atlético Madrid has yesterday officially announced the transfer of Asenjo, which has also been confirmed by Real Valladolid.

Asenjo will sign a four-year deal with the Spanish first division club on Monday. Atlético Madrid is believed to have paid the buyout clause of around 5 million euro while Atlético Madrid players Diego Costa and possibly Ignacio Camacho could also be included in the deal.

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