BARCELONA // Gerardo Martino, the new manager of Spanish champions Barcelona, has made it clear he is counting on Cesc Fabregas for next season and does not want the Spain midfielder to accept an offer from Manchester United.
David Moyes, the United coach, on Thursday said the English champions had not given up their pursuit of Fabregas, who returned to his boyhood club in 2011 after eight seasons with United's Premier League rivals Arsenal.
"Obviously, I am not going to get involved in the club's economic affairs but they have already rejected two offers so I will add a third – we are going to keep him here," Martino said at his first news conference since he was appointed to succeed Tito Vilanova.
The Barca vice president Josep Maria Bartomeu also ruled out selling Fabregas, saying it was normal for United to be interested in him as he was "a great player" but that the club were counting on him.
Barca hired Martino, 50, Vilanova was forced to step down due to illness.
The Argentine is known to prefer the club's possession-based playing style.
He said his immediate priorities were to get to know the squad and coaching staff and make sure the players retained their hunger for success.
He would be focusing as well on making sure Barca's World Player of the Year Lionel Messi, who is also from Rosario, was able to continue his phenomenal scoring run of recent seasons.
"What we are going to try to do is make him feel as comfortable as he has up to now, making him feel good in the team," said Martino, a former coach of Paraguay and most recently Newell's Old Boys in his native Rosario.
"With that he will do the rest."
Liverpool have no intention of selling Suarez
Ian Ayre, the Liverpool managing director, has reiterated the club's determination to keep the striker Luis Suarez.
The Reds have rejected bids of £30 million (Dh170m) and £40m plus £1 from Arsenal.
Suarez also has been linked with Real Madrid. He has made clear in a series of interviews since the end of last season that he wants to leave Anfield, but the Merseysiders are not willing to sell the controversial Uruguay international.
Ayre, speaking at a news conference in Bangkok during the club's pre-season tour, said: "The situation with Luis Suarez remains the same. It's never been our intention to sell Luis … We've received two separate offers from Arsenal for the player and we've rejected those offers."
Suarez was allowed an extended summer break after his involvement in the Confederations Cup with Uruguay and joined the Liverpool squad in Australia earlier this week.
Andre Villas-Boas, the Spurs manager, said talks are continuing with Gareth Bale's agent regarding a new contract for the Wales international as they attempt to fend off interest from Real Madrid. Bale repeatedly has been linked with a move to the Bernabeu, with reports in Spain earlier this week suggesting the player has already agreed terms on a six-year deal. Speaking at the Asia Trophy in Hong Kong, Villas-Boas said: "There was contact between the club and his agent last year and there is ongoing contact between the club and his agent. It's something that is being dealt with by the chairman and the agent." Meanwhile, Spurs have completed the signing of the Belgian winger Nacer Chadli from FC Twente for a reported £7 million (Dh39.6m).
The striker Demba Ba has vowed to fight for his Chelsea place. Ba signed from Newcastle United in January to support Fernando Torres, but with Romelu Lukaku back and Chelsea's pursuit of the Manchester United striker Wayner Rooney, it has been suggested his time at Stamford Bridge could soon end. "I will stay," Ba said. "I think we need competition and we welcome the best players in this club. More competition is going to make me better, anyway."
The Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said that the goalkeeper Jose Reina is set to join Napoli on loan. Liverpool can afford to let the 30-year-old keeper move, having signed the Belgian Simon Mignolet from Sunderland. Rodgers, speaking in Thailand, said: "We have to protect the team, and at that stage we started our search for another goalkeeper. That found us Simon Mignolet, who's top class, one of the top young European goalkeepers."
Norwich have completed the signing of Gary Hooper from Celtic. The 25-year-old striker, who scored 31 goals for the Scottish champions last season, becomes the Canaries' seventh summer signing after he agreed personal terms and passed a medical at Carrow Road. The Norwich manager Chris Hughton fought off competition from Queens Park Rangers to land the prolific forward. Hooper has signed a three-year deal with Norwich having an option on a further year. The fee was undisclosed. Hooper has been Celtic's leading scorer for the past three seasons, having joined from Scunthorpe in 2010 for £2.4m. Neil Lennon, the Celtic manager, described Hooper as the club's best striker since Henrik Larsson and said his departure was a "huge loss" for the club.
A stoppage-time goal from Wilfried Zaha saved United from the brink of a third defeat in their pre-season Asian tour yesterday, drawing 2-2 with Cerezo Osaka at Shinji Kagawa's former J-League home. "I'm happy," new United manager David Moyes said. "I thought it was our best performance."
Bayern Munich's Thiago Alcantara claims Manchester United never made a serious move to sign him. The 23-year-old midfielder moved to the European champions from Barcelona earlier this month. Thiago's father and agent Mazinho said yesterday that his son had been "very close" to joining United, but in an interview with RAC1 the Spain Under 21 international said: "In no moment did United talk to us. It came from the press."
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