Barcelona continue working to shape their roster for the new campaign as the World Cup winds down. The club has reportedly opted to terminate the contract of Isaac Cuenca as the future of Dani Alves also hangs in the balance.
Tom Conn of Inside Spanish Football reports Barcelona had no interest in signing the 23-year-old winger to a new deal. Instead of making him wait another year for the contract to run out, they rescinded the deal so he could join another club.
He also passed along a report from Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo, which stated new Barca manager Luis Enrique met with Cuenca to let him know he wasn't in the club's plans. He's expected to join Deportivo La Coruna: "Over the past several days, news leaked that Cuenca had agreed to personal terms with Depor, where they then began negotiating with Barcelona over the transfer of the player."
Stefan Coerts of Goal.com confirmed the release:
Cuenca joined Barcelona's youth system in 2003. He left three years later to explore other options before returning in 2009. He then started playing with the club's B side before getting called up to the first team in 2011.
The Catalan attacking player flashed promise along the way. Unfortunately, a combination of injuries and a lack of playing time on a deep Barcelona side slowed his development. In turn, his exit doesn't come as much of a surprise.
Liam Twomey of Goal.com is among those to recognize Cuenca's potential despite his inability to showcase it so far in his career:
Big shame the way knee injuries have stalled Isaac Cuenca's career. Talented guy. Hope he can get back on track somewhere— Liam Twomey (@liam_twomey) July 10, 2014
A fresh start could be exactly what he needs to get back on track.
Should Barca move Alves?
As for Alves, he seemed like another veteran player readying for an exit from Camp Nou as Enrique began to reshape the roster. Now, it's unclear whether he will leave, and he's making it clear staying with Barca is his first choice.
Dermot Corrigan of ESPN FC reports a move to Paris Saint-Germain hasn't worked out, and Barcelona also haven't been able to secure a potential replacement. It appears a final decision won't be made until the right-back returns from the World Cup.
The report included translated remarks Alves made to Mundo Deportivo:
When I return to Barcelona I will speak with the people at the club and see what they want. If they want me to go I will look for an exit, if they want me to stay, I will continue. I have a contract with Barca and I have always given everything for the club, regardless of the results of the last years. I want to stay, but it does not just depend on me.
He's remained a key cog in the Barcelona lineup ever since joining the club in 2008. He's appeared in at least 40 matches in every season and continued to showcase good form, although it's been more sporadic over the past few seasons.
At 31, Barca doesn't have much time left to get good value for him on the transfer market. He also had an unimpressive World Cup moving forward, as noted by OptaJose:
2 - Only two of the 13 crosses attempted from open play by Dani Alves #BRA in the 2014 World Cup were successful. Bench.— OptaJose (@OptaJose) July 4, 2014
Ultimately, Barcelona will either have to sign a replacement or decide Martin Montoya is ready for full-time duty before moving Alves. He's a reliable veteran presence that could still provide value if a better option isn't found.
The Blaugrana are coming off a lackluster campaign by their standards, only winning the Spanish Super Cup. It adds to the pressure on Enrique to bring home hardware in his first campaign, and he's clearly doing what he feels is necessary with the squad to maximize his chances of success.