CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) The president of FC Barcelona is all too aware of the intrigue surrounding the summer transfer window. Josep Maria Bartomeu also knows he can’t say much about it.
”Some players will come. Others will leave. That’s normal,” said Bartomeu, who is in Boston this week giving presentations at Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
”But no doubt, without saying names – I cannot say names – because probably a lot of them are under negotiation by the people of the club,” he said Friday ”Of course, so many players will appear.”
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His team reportedly is interested in forward Antoine Griezmann of Spanish league rival Atletico Madrid. While Bartomeu expects his team to be active during the transfer period, he told The Associated Press that Barca is just as focused on promoting from its B team as it is in looking elsewhere.
Barcelona won the Copa del Rey and captured its 25th La Liga title this season. But it was eliminated by Roma in the quarterfinals Champions League quarterfinals in April following Neymar’s transfer to Paris St. Germain last year.
In his four seasons in Spain, Neymar scored 105 goals as Barcelona won the Champions League, the Club World Cup, two Spanish league titles and the Copa del Rey three times.
Philipe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele helped ease the void left by Neymar’s departure. Asked if Barcelona is still in need of a more permanent replacement for Neymar, Bartomeu said the team is always evaluating its needs.
”Coutinho, Dembele are for us a big investment,” he said. ”They are very important players that we expect from them a lot. Coutinho probably in the last four months has been very active for the team. But Dembele is a very young player, a very talented player that we are, of course, expecting from him a lot. He’s been demonstrating during the season that he’s a good young player for us. But, of course, next season will be different.
”It’s not easy to play in Barcelona the first year because the model of football is quite different from the rest. But after one year I’m sure we are going to see Dembele and Coutinho at a very high level.”
ROOTING FOR MESSI
Nineteen Barcelona players took part in World Cup qualifying for their national teams this year, with many expected to play big roles in Russia this summer.
While Bartomeu says he wishes success for all Barca players competing, he will have a special interest in seeing Lionel Messi do well.
The one title to elude the Barcelona great is a World Cup trophy. He came close in 2014 when Argentina fell to Germany 1-0 in final. Messi subsequently retired from international competition in 2016.
”I would like him to win, of course, this World Cup. He’s the best player of the history of football,” Bartomeu said. ”So he would have won all titles, all records. He’s an excellent player. So adding a World Cup to his hundreds of titles would be good for him. But also good for Barca. I think it would be beneficial also for the club to have one of our players win again.”
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