The saga continues and despite further forests of newsprint detailing this and suggesting that, nothing, absolutely nothing has actually happened. Well, that is not quite true. Thiago Alcántara, Barça’s great hope for the future has just signed a new contract which will keep him at Barcelona for another four years. Thiago of course was one of the mainstays of the rumourologists. Most journalists asserted quite confidently that if Cesc Fàbregas was to sign then Thiago would have to go. Either to raise money for the transfer or just to make way for Cesc. Just goes to show how well informed our Spanish journalists are!
As regards new signings - not a sign. On the flip side, nobody has left the club yet either. Though there are still plenty of speculation, some of which changes on a daily basis. On the arrival front it looks like the first new player to come will be Kiko Feminía, a 20 year old winger who is set to join Barça from Hercules for a fee of around €4 million. It seems that Kiko will play part of the time with the B team and part with the first team. Clearly one for the future and not one to challenge the current hierarchy.
Whether they do sign someone who can challenge the current players will depend on whether Barça can finally sign Cesc and their other, alleged priority, Alexis Sanchez. And despite the usual claims that an agreement is imminent nothing has been agreed. Though things may reach a final decision, one way or the other, very soon. At least in the case of Cesc. Again despite claims to the contrary, he has returned to London today for the start of pre-season training with Arsenal. His club are due to fly out to Malaysia sometime next week, and I would imagine that if he is to sign for Barcelona then it would have to be before flying out to Malaysia. This one should be resolved pretty soon.
As regards Alexis Sanchez, he is currently in Argentina with Chile preparing for the Copa America. It is most unlikely that he will be given permission to fly to Barcelona for any medical during the tournament. The Chilean authorities would also not be too keen on any negotiations during the tournament. Of course according to the press Sanchez has already reached an agreement with Barça. The stumbling block is that Udinese, his current club, are none to keen to sell their star player. They are holding our for a substantially bigger offer from Barça. This one may run a bit longer.
Whether Barça can raise any more money will probably depend on how much they can raise from selling on some of their current squad. Here, again, there has been little in the way of concrete movement. It looks like Bojan will leave and at one stage it seemed that a deal had been struck with Roma. While Roma still seem to be favourites to sign him, Tottenham Hotspur are also supposed to be interested in Bojan. Jeffren is another who may be about to leave, with offers from various Spanish clubs on the table. It seems that Barcelona would also like to move on some other players - Milito and Maxwell for example. But it seems that there have been no offers so far for either player. One way or another it does not look likely that Barça will be able to raise very much in the way of additional transfer funds.
Barça started with an initial budget of €45 million which could rise to €65 million if the club are lucky in selling on some of their players. Even this sum may not be enough to sign both Cesc and Alexis Sanchez. Especially now that the club has just spent €4 million on Kiko, and by all accounts would like to sign an experienced defender to replace Maxwell - if they can move him on. Given this scenario and the lack of confirmed signings, it is no surprise to find that the Spanish media has begun to uncover the names of other players that Barça might want to sign, if, heaven forfend, plan A goes astray. Of course plan A - Cesc and Alexis - may just be a figment of the media in the first place.
The first team squad are due to start pre-season training on 18th July, which is just two weeks away. On the 14th August they play Real Madrid away in the first leg of the Spanish supercup. I expect that Pep Guardiola would like to know which new players he will have in the squad well before then. So I expect a lot of movement in the next couple of weeks. Any Spanish speaking readers who would like to dip into a relatively new blog on Spanish football with a Barça bent should try this blog by José Carlos Carrasquet. Some good insights about the current transfer madness.