Marc Bartra's agent denied reports that his client is in talks with Napoli over a potential move, according to Football Italia.
"I represent Marc. The information is not true," Bartra's agent, Javier Diaz, said. "Marc has not negotiated with any team. He never had any intention of leaving."
Earlier in the day, David Amoyal of GianlucaDiMarzio.com reported Napoli had "intensified" their pursuit of the defender.
Bartra, who made just 11 La Liga starts last season, is keen to make the move to Italy, per Amoyal:
David Amoyal @DavidAmoyal
CB Bartra has said yes to Napoli, the Italian club is now negotiating with Barcelona on formula of potential deal (Di Marzio)2015-7-22 21:49:51
He provided further information on Di Marzio's website:
Napoli already has an agreement with the player, but now need to convince Barcelona, sporting director Giuntoli met with an intermediary on Wednesday night to work on an agreement. There are a few options being discussed for the transfer: €12 million plus 3 million in bonuses or €14 million without bonuses. Napoli is intensifying their pursuit of Bartra.
Llorente appears to be a wanted man despite struggling to make an impression in Turin. David McDonnell of the Daily Mirror suggests Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal is keen on the Spaniard, while Tuttosport (h/t Conn) reports he has swatted away offers from "Monaco, Porto and several other English Premier League sides" to wait for Real Madrid.
As noted in Conn's latest report, Barca could land Llorente "to help bolster their chances of set-piece success." Manager Luis Enrique's attacking options lack height—none of Lionel Messi, Neymar or Luis Suarez is intimidating from crosses—so Llorente's 6'5" frame could bring unique qualities to the club. WhoScored.com provided further evidence of this:
Fernando Llorente: Has scored more headed goals (9) than any other player in the last 2 Serie A seasons2015-7-22 09:31:54
However, Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu recently hinted that no further business, in or out, will be made. His comments were reported by Iain Rogers of Reuters (h/t Daily Mail) on Thursday: "We have a complete and balanced squad and Luis Enrique is happy with the players he has. We need all the players because this season the team has a chance of winning all the competitions we are playing in."
These comments could suggest Bartra, who is a versatile and extremely useful back-up, will stay put. Sport Witness provided extra weight to this notion:
Sport Witness @Sport_Witness
Agency claiming to represent Marc Bartra insist he hasn't spoken to anyone and has no intention of leaving Barca. https://t.co/YblUlTC4Su2015-7-22 22:57:54
The 24-year-old needs regular playing time if he's ever going to fulfill his potential, particularly as he can no longer be considered an up-and-coming youngster.
The irregular Spanish international is more than capable of holding down a starting role at another European club. Napoli will fight for a place in the Champions League next season and also flaunt the Spanish presence of Jose Callejon and Raul Albiol.
If Bartra wants to make the nation's Euro 2016 squad, he needs to post a career-defining campaign no matter where he is. Chances are likely to remain few and far between under Enrique, who often rotated Gerard Pique, Javier Mascherano and Jeremy Mathieu en route to last season's treble.
Barca can look forward to the addition of Aleix Vidal and Arda Turan in January, two players who have signed but cannot play competitive football until the transfer ban subsides. Half a season without their new acquisitions means fringe players such as Bartra can expect to be offered extra time to prove themselves.