Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta is reportedly keen to sign a new contract at the Camp Nou.
As reported by Jordi Gil of Sport, the playmaker was asked at El Prat airport whether an agreement in principle had been reached between himself and Barcelona, as claimed by the club's president Josep Maria Bartomeu. Iniesta answered "no."
"The captain's response was given off the cuff and as a result of confusion," said Gil. "Iniesta did not want to give the impression that his future could be away from Barca. On the contrary, his desire is to stay and his agents are working on this assumption. Although there are still differences, both parties want to reach an agreement."
Given he has less than a year to run on his contract, Iniesta's response to the press naturally caused a stir, as noted below:
B/R Football @brfootball
Time to panic? https://t.co/NKfYpfdfj62017-9-7 01:00:01
In the past, the prospect of Iniesta leaving Barcelona would never have been considered. However, after a summer in which the club saw a key man pinched in Neymar, tensions have undoubtedly been heightened at the Camp Nou.
Although Iniesta may not be the force he once was, he's still a wonderful footballer and a key man in Catalonia.
Per journalist Keith Costigan, he was exceptional for Spain against Italy in the international break:
keith costigan @KeithCostigan
And anyone that says Iniesta is done just watch this game. #stillgotit2017-9-2 19:27:50
Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde will need to rotate the 32-year-old throughout the campaign, but you sense that when the Blaugrana have a big game he'll be in the side. Many tied to the Barca will hope he is for a while yet.
As such, there'll be a nervousness surrounding Iniesta until an extension is agreed. Barcelona supporters will be disappointed that so much uncertainty is accompanying a man so steeped in the club's traditions and glory.
Barca Interested in Maxime Lopez
According to Mundo Deportivo (h/t Football Espana), Barcelona are keeping an eye on Marseille's young midfielder Maxime Lopez.
In the report it's said the Blaugrana have held discussions with the player's representatives already and are set to make an offer.
Per the Barcastuff Twitter account, the interest in the teenager is noted on the front page of Mundo Deportivo:
Cover: "Contact With Maxime Lopez" - Barça representatives met with 19-year old Marseille player agent & informed about their interest. [md] https://t.co/qs0QkIs1XM2017-9-7 08:49:28
It's added the Blaugrana are seeking to draft in younger players who can be building blocks in the team for years to come. Lopez appears to tick those boxes.
Per Squawka Football, there's little doubt Barca would have been impressed by his ability to take control of games:
Squawka Football @Squawka
Maxime Lopez completed more passes (1,563) in Europe's top 5 leagues this season than any other teenager. ⚪️🔵 https://t.co/j5nDm6BAdP2017-5-31 21:48:00
While still only 19, the youngster has made himself a regular for Marseille since making his senior debut for the club last term; he made an impressive 26 starts in Ligue 1 last season. As the above statistics show, he's smart on the ball, but he's also a fantastic technician and dangerous from set-piece deliveries.
Given his style, it'd be no surprise if the interest from Barcelona was genuine, and there's little doubt Lopez's progress will be monitored throughout the campaign.