New Barcelona coach Gerardo ’Tata’ Martino is certain Cesc Fabregas will be part of his team next season, despite repeated interest from Manchester United.
The Premier League champions have made two offers for the former Arsenal midfielder, for a reported £25m and £30m respectively, both of which were rejected by the Catalan club.
Yesterday United manager David Moyes told reporters that negotiations for Fabregas were “ongoing”, but Martino, speaking in his first press conference as boss, insisted the player was staying at Barcelona and was part of his plans.
He said: “I’m not going to involve myself in the club’s accounts, but considering the club has already rejected two offers, I would guess it will reject a third. In other words, Fabregas will remain here.”
The Argentinian’s words were backed up by vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who said: “It’s logical that we’ve had offers for Fabregas because he is a quality player, but he is not for sale.”
Martino, 50, succeeds Tito Vilanova, who resigned from the role last Friday to continue his battle with cancer.
He has spent his 15-year managerial career in South America, coaching a host of Argentinian club sides, most recently Newell’s Old Boys, plus the Paraguay national team, who he lead to the World Cup quarter-finals in 2010 and the Copa America final in 2011.
Asked if he would be able to cope with the pressure of coaching Barca, Martino said he agreed with the last Argentinian coach to take charge of the Catalans, Cesar Luis Menotti, who once remarked “once you have coached in Argentina, everything else is much easier”.
Martino said: “Coaching in Argentina is not easy, there are no comparisons between these countries, but we feel the same pressure. I don’t have the career Menotti had so I am less qualified to say that, but I share his opinions.”