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Barca claim they've been discreet over Suarez

ESPN staff
July 2, 2014
Reading from the same script? Barcelona's sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta

Barcelona president Josep-Maria Bartomeu claims the club are acting with discretion in the transfer market after he became the second high-ranking club official to praise Luis Suarez in as many days.

The Spanish club's sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta was gushing about the "humble" Liverpool striker on Tuesday and the clubs were due to discuss a potential £80 million transfer on Wednesday that could involve Alexis Sanchez, who has also been linked to Arsenal, Juventus and Atletico Madrid, moving to Anfield.

It is the responsibility of all of us that Luis Suarez, at Liverpool or wherever he wants to be, continues his career

Bartomeu also dropped a heavy hint to FIFA that Suarez's willingness to say sorry for the Giorgio Chiellini biting should help him get back playing.

"For weeks and months we have made many journeys," the club president said when asked directly about the mooted transfer of Suarez, who is serving a four-month ban from the game. "But we cannot explain them. We try and do things with the most discretion possible.

"[Suarez] is a Liverpool player and I can say little about him. He plays for a rival team. But what I can say, as a football person, is that apologising has been to his credit, because when you make a mistake you should apologise.

"It is good what he has done, because it helps football. It is the responsibility of all of us that Luis Suarez, at Liverpool or wherever he wants to be, continues his career. To admit errors is an important step."

"We have received offers for Alexis. He is a player who is on the market and people are looking at him. He had a magnificent last season. We are counting on him for next year. But it is also true that many clubs have called us with proposals to sign him."

Barca have already signed goalkeepers Marc-Andre Ter Stegen and Claudio Bravo this summer, along with midfielder Ivan Rakitic. Asked if further players - such as badly needed defensive cover - would also arrive, Bartomeu said talks were ongoing on many fronts.

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"We have many names, we have the players, and we are negotiating," he said. "In a World Cup year clubs wait and I believe that many issues will speed up once the competition is over, or when some teams are eliminated.

"I am not involved in the negotiations, but they are working on names which excite me and which are agreed with [coach] Luis Enrique. Zubi has spoken about centre-halves, but we cannot reveal the names."

A player who could leave the club this summer is long serving playmaker Xavi Hernandez, 34, and Bartomeu followed Zubizarreta's line in suggesting the player would decide his own future.

"I have read a lot about Xavi in many different media outlets," he said. "We will respect whatever he decides. He has a place in our team and he has a contract with us. The day he leaves he will pass into history as the best player ever at this institution. He has earned the right to decide himself, and whatever he chooses to do we will help him. Xavi will return to the club within a few years because we will have in him a great coach."

This summer's big squad changes may be linked to the two-year transfer ban imposed on the club last April, which has now been suspended pending an appeal. Bartomeu again suggested the basis for the punishment had been malicious meddling from elsewhere, while saying he was sure it would be lifted once FIFA realised no rules had been broken.

"We have suspicions about who initiated the process with FIFA," he said. "But before speaking about who that was, I would like to resolve the issue with FIFA. Then we will go to the end with everything. On August 19 FIFA have called us for a meeting to explain what has happened."

Barcelona appear to think the future looks brighter for Luis Suarez than it did © Getty Images
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