Following the team's first trophyless season in six years, Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has told radio station Onda Cero the club has no plans to sell the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Javier Mascherano.
Via Barcastuff and Sky Sports' Pete O'Rourke, respectively, Bartomeu stressed neither player will be available for transfer this summer:
Despite Bartomeu's claims, Sky Sports' Staff reported the following day that Fabregas is expected to leave Barcelona:
Sky Sports News understands that Cesc Fabregas is set to leave Barcelona this summer - and is expected to return to the Premier League.
Barcelona are willing to sell the Spain midfielder as he does not figure in their plans for next season.
We understand Fabregas has a £30 million release clause written into his contract.
Football Espana gives an insight into how the club plans to do their transfer business this summer, quoting Bartomeu saying:
We prefer to act with discretion. Whether we sell anyone or not depends. Barca might not want to sell but if the player wants to go, we’ll talk.
[...]Many things can pass in 91 days and surely they will. Each year there are major changes and we’ll certainly see one or two.
Bartomeu seemed more confident talking about potential transfer targets for the club rather than players who could leave, immediately shooting down potential deals for Fabregas or Mascherano.
Fabregas has been linked with a move back to the Premier League in recent weeks, with Manchester United's David de Gea even claiming he was trying to convince the player to join the Red Devils, as reported by ESPN FC's Dermot Corrigan:
I have tried to convince [Fabregas] to come. We would have another Spaniard, but it is difficult. He is a top-level player—many teams want him. He said he liked it at Barcelona, it was his home, and the truth is it would be difficult for us to get him.
Napoli's Aurelie De Laurentiis, meanwhile, told Gazzetta dello Sport the club were working on a deal that would reunite Mascherano with manager Rafael Benitez, via Goal.com's James Willoughby:
"Benitez knows Mascherano well. We are working on it but it's a difficult negotiation."
While neither of the two players are perhaps seen as a vital component of the Blaugrana side that dominated European football in recent years, their versatility has made them interesting pieces for new manager Luis Enrique to work with.
Mascherano came to the club as a defensive midfielder but has done most of his work as a centre-back in recent years, as evidenced by his 36 starts there in 2013-14, per WhoScored.com.
Fabregas on the other hand is a natural heir for Xavi and Andres Iniesta in the centre of the pitch, but his work for the Spanish national team as a false nine also makes him a backup to Lionel Messi.
Barcelona's transfer ban may be lifted for now, as shared by Guillem Balague, but the uncertainty surrounding the team's future means the Blaugrana will be looking at using the upcoming summer transfer window as perhaps their final chance to drastically improve their chances for silverware.
Selling several valuable contributors will achieve exactly the opposite, so don't expect Mascherano or Fabregas to leave the club this summer for anything other than a very significant offer.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!