Long summer of sales, signings for troubled Barcelona

May 1st, 2008 - 6:39 pm ICT by admin  

Madrid, May 1 (DPA) The summer promises to be long and hot in Barcelona, with the Catalan giants working overtime to remodel their troubled squad. A consensus has emerged that Barca need drastic changes after two seasons of frustration and failure, culminating in Tuesday’s Champions League meltdown in Manchester.

“This summer looks like being long and complicated,” claims Catalan daily paper Sport.

According to Madrid daily Marca, there will be “at the very least” eight players leaving the Camp Nou.

Top of the unwanted list, of course, is Ronaldinho, himself the goofy metaphor of how Barca have slipped from success and smiles to failure and grimaces in just two years.

Club president Joan Laporta must surely now be regretting his decision not to sell Ronaldinho last summer.

On Tuesday, Laporta claimed that his mysteriously injured star is worth more than 40 million euros ($62.28 million), but AC Milan have offered about one-third of that amount so far.

Other players on the way out are veterans Gianluca Zambrotta, Lilian Thuram, Sylvinho, Deco, Eidur Gudjohnsen and Thierry Henry.

The man in charge of Barca’s remodelling will be sporting director Txiki Begiristain, despite his poor record in the past three years.

Begisristain - a key member of Johan Cruyff’s Barca “Dream Team” of the 1990s - has been handling the club’s buying and selling since Sandro Rosell resigned as vice-president in 2005.

Most of Begiristain’s signings - particularly Zambrotta, Thuram, Gudjohnsen and Henry - have flopped.

An online poll in Mundo Deportivo Thursday shows that a staggering 85 percent of readers have no confidence in him.

According to Sport, Begiristain is looking for a full-back, a central defender, a winger and a centre-forward — and also a new coach, given that Frank Rijkaard has clearly outstayed his welcome.

Sport claims that Barca’s priority at full-back is Sevilla’s Daniel Alves, though Phillip Lahm is another possibility given that he has still not extended his contract at Bayern Munich.

For the centre of defence, Begiristain is considering Argentines Fabricio Coloccini of Deportivo Coruna and Ezequiel Garay of Racing Santander.

The Barca fans would love Cesc Fabregas to return from Arsenal, though Begiristain has said on several occasions that this will not happen because of the controversial way that Fabregas left the Barca youth sections when aged 15.

Begiristain seems to be more focussed on Sevilla midfielders Christian Poulsen and Seydou Keita.

Top of Barca’s list to kick-start an attack that has run out of goals is Karim Benzema of Olympique Lyon.

Sport claims that Begiristain has been given around 120 million euros ($186 million) by Laporta for signings.

Without doubt, it is going to be a long hot summer in Barcelona.

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