Martino dashes United’s Fab hopes

Barcelona coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino has made it clear that Cesc Fabregas will be part of his team next season, despite repeated interest from Manchester United.

Martino dashes United’s Fab hopes

The Premier League champions, who yesterday played out a 2-2 friendly draw against J. League outfit Cerezo Osaka with Wilfried Zaha scoring his first goal for the goal, have made two offers for the former Arsenal midfielder, for a reported £25 million and £30m.

Both bids were rejected by the Catalan club.

On Thursday the United manager David Moyes told reporters that negotiations for Fabregas were “ongoing” but Martino, speaking in his first press conference as Barcelona coach, insisted the player was staying at the Spanish side 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, he will remain here.”

The Argentinian coach’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.”

The 50-year-old coach succeeds Tito Vilanova, who resigned from the role last Friday to continue his battle with cancer, and the Argentinian began his press conference with a message for his predecessor.

“I’m very proud to join this institution, with its illustrious history, but regrettably, I know why I’m here and I’d like to take this opportunity to send my best regards to Tito,” he said.

“We don’t know each other but we spoke on the phone and he welcomed me to the club and wished me good luck, and I wished him a speedy recovery.”

Martino has spent his 15-year managerial career in South America, coaching a host of Argentinian club sides, most recently Newell’s Old Boys, where he spent the majority of his playing career, plus the Paraguay national team, who he led 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 in Europe, Martino said he agreed with the last Argentinian coach to take charge of Barcelona, 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 opinion.”

And he is under no illusions as to what is expected of him at the Camp Nou: “It’s logical that this club has to win trophies. I would be a failure if we didn’t.

“Barcelona are used to winning and we will have to keep doing that.”

Martino also dismissed the suggestion that Lionel Messi would be unable to play alongside Brazil forward Neymar, who joined the club for €57m in June.

“I don’t understand why two players of that quality can’t play together, but if they can’t, it will be my fault, not theirs,” he said.

* Leeds last night confirmed that Ken Bates had left his role as their president, ending his eight-and-a-half-year association with the club.

The often-outspoken former Chelsea chairman bought Leeds in January 2005 and held power at the club until signing over to current owners GFH Capital in December last year.

Bates remained as chairman until June 30 when he started a three-year term as president, but that was abruptly ended last night.

More in this section

Sport Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox