Barcelona president Joan Laporta wants Xavi and Sergio Busquets to pen new contracts and extend their long associations with the club.

Former team-mates, Xavi is now head coach of the Blaugrana while Busquets remains an important part of their midfield with the Catalan side holding a nine-point lead over rivals Real Madrid at the top of LaLiga.

But with Busquets' contract due to expire at the end of this season and Xavi's the year after, there was uncertainty over how much longer the two club legends would stay at Camp Nou.

However, Laporta clarified the situation and revealed the club is set to offer fresh deals to the pair.

"I have already thought about a renewal," Laporta told reporters. "I think we should renew him [Xavi] because he has earned it.

"He knows the house. He knows Barca. He doesn't ask us for crazy things [as per transfers]. He perfectly understands the situation of the club.

"We have talked about Busquets. He is essential in the dressing room, he has a way of playing that suits our system. Xavi wants him to continue.

"We have not made a specific proposal yet, but we will do it soon. We are evaluating it as a club to extend for another year."

After a 4-3 aggregate defeat to Manchester United knocked Barca out of the Europa League, Xavi said the club may need to invest in the transfer market if they are to compete in Europe again.

Asked what he felt Barca needed in future transfer windows, Laporta replied: "A left back, a centre back depending on the market, a striker and we'll see if a midfielder [is possible] depending on what comes out. 

"Up front we are missing a piece, but we must remember that our resources are limited."

Barcelona president Joan Laporta insisted the club never "bought referees nor had the intention to" following revelations from the Negreira case.

Last month, broadcaster SER Catalunya alleged Barca had paid €1.6million to the company of Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira – the former vice-president of Spain's Technical Committee of Referees (CTA) – between 2016 and 2018.

Newspaper El Pais claimed Negreira's company – DASNIL 95 SL – produced written reports and DVD assessments of referees prior to games.

Barca strenuously denied any wrongdoing at the time, adamant that such "technical reports related to professional refereeing" were "common practice among professional football clubs" as they acknowledged working with "an external consultant". Negreira denied favouring Barcelona.

El Mundo then alleged Barca stopped making payments to Negreira after he was no longer the CTA vice-president.

A joint investigation by the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and the CTA found no evidence of corruption nor influence over referees, while a probe into Negreira's affairs by the prosecutor's office is ongoing.

Laporta was not eager to talk about the subject on Tuesday when asked during what was billed as a "lunch discussion", but he felt the need to reiterate Barca's denial of wrongdoing.

"We have prepared a press conference to talk about this topic, but today I have this lunch," he said.

"Let me be clear, Barca have never bought referees nor had the intention to buy referees. Absolutely never.

"The forcefulness of the facts contradicts those who try to change the story. We are doing well again, nothing is accidental."

Laporta even seemed to suggest the scandal was part of a wider conspiracy to tarnish Barca's reputation after their refusal to sign up to LaLiga's deal with private equity fund CVC Capital Partners, who pledged €2billion in exchange for an 8.2 per cent stake in a new company that will receive revenue from the league's broadcasting and sponsorship rights.

"There is a campaign to harm the interests of Barca," he added.

"It is a campaign aimed at controlling the club. LaLiga does not accept that Barca did not sign the contract with CVC."

Ferran Torres acknowledged falling into a "bottomless pit" amid struggles at Barcelona but remains committed to the long-term Blaugrana project under Xavi.

The Spain international struggled in his debut Camp Nou term after signing from Manchester City for an initial €55million (£46.3m) in December 2021.

Torres' profligate showings last season saw him finish with just four goals from 18 LaLiga games, despite accumulating an expected goals tally of 7.03.

That led to some criticism over the forward's return to Spain, having left Valencia for City in 2020, but he has enjoyed somewhat of a resurgence in recent weeks after impressing in Sunday's win over Cadiz.

While he continues to battle for a place in Xavi's side, Torres – who has scored just two goals in 19 league outings this term – detailed the initial struggles to settle at Barca.

He told reporters: "I felt that I had fallen into a bottomless pit. I had never collapsed so much. I promised Xavi that I would be me again.

"I put myself in the hands of a psychologist. I usually go once or twice a week. My family also helped me, I have a very healthy environment.

"I have learnt not to be so obsessed with goals. I have learned to be happy, to face things. I have had a bad time, but it has been a great opportunity to get to know myself."

Torres hailed the role of Blaugrana veteran and Spain team-mate Sergio Busquets, as well as Barca president Joan Laporta, as he fought to adapt and improve on his underwhelming form.

"The president is very close with everyone. All of my team-mates have helped me," he added. "Busquets told me that I should be calm. That the reward would end up coming."

The 22-year-old plans to stay and fight to prove his worth at LaLiga leaders Barca, with Xavi's impressive managerial skills at the forefront of his reasoning.

"I want to succeed at Barcelona, ​​I see myself here for many years," he continued. "I'm not to blame for the price they wanted to pay for me.

"I wanted to come because this is Barca and you can't say no.

"Xavi called me several times. He carries Barca in his veins and has won everything."

Torres will look to repay Xavi's faith as Barca head to Old Trafford on Thursday for the second leg of their Europa League play-off clash with Manchester United, with the tie finely poised at 2-2.

"We will have to run like there is no tomorrow. It will be a game of patience and knowing how to suffer," he said.

"The Premier League is a very physical league, but we have a lot of talent and that's also important. We're going with everything and above all with young people ready to take on the world."

The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and the Technical Committee of Referees (CTA) have distanced themselves from former LaLiga referee Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira in the wake of allegations involving Barcelona.

LaLiga giants Barca are alleged to have paid €1.4million to a company part-owned by Negreira between 2016 and 2018.

Negreira, who was the vice president of the CTA, held his role with the RFEF from 1994 to 2018. It is alleged Barca wanted to ensure "that there would be complete neutrality" in refereeing decisions affecting the club.

Barca responded with a statement on Wednesday saying they had hired the services of an external consultant that supplied the club's technical secretaries with reports in video format of youth players from other clubs in Spain.

The Blaugrana added that "the relationship with that supplier extended to technical reports related to professional refereeing in order to complement the information requested by the first and second team coaching staff. This a common practice among professional football clubs."

Barca revealed they would be taking legal action against "those who are trying to tarnish the club's image with possible insinuations against its good reputation that could be caused by the release of such information."

However, the RFEF issued a statement distancing itself and the CTA from any links with Negreira since he left his role five years ago, and vowed to support any investigation into the matter.

"The CTA wants to make it clear that Mr Enriquez Negreira is not part of any federative structure since the change of government carried out after the 2018 elections," a statement issued on RFEF's official website read.

"The CTA regrets the behaviours that may be likely to violate the ethics of the establishment. No active arbitrator or member of the CTA bodies may carry out any work that is likely to enter into a conflict of interest. 

"The CTA makes itself available to offer its maximum collaboration in any type of information that this committee can provide."

Barca president Joan Laporta said it was "no coincidence" that the allegations had come to light with the Blaugrana sitting 11 points clear at the top of LaLiga.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta thinks it is "no coincidence" allegations that the club made large payments to a former vice-president of Spain's Technical Committee of Referees have been made now.

Radio station Ser Catalunya on Wednesday claimed Barca paid €1.4million to a company part-owned by Jose María Enriquez Negreira between 2016 and 2018.

Former LaLiga referee Negreira held his role with the Royal Spanish Football Federation from 1994 to 2018.

It is alleged Barca wanted to ensure "that there would be complete neutrality" in refereeing decisions affecting the Catalan club.

Barca responded with a statement on Wednesday saying they had hired the services of an external consultant that supplied the club's technical secretaries with reports in video format of youth players from other clubs in Spain.

The Blaugrana added that "the relationship with that supplier extended to technical reports related to professional refereeing in order to complement the information requested by the first and second team coaching staff. This a common practice among professional football clubs."

Barca revealed they would be taking legal action against "those who are trying to tarnish the club's image with possible insinuations against its good reputation that could be caused by the release of such information."

Laporta believes it is no coincidence allegations have been aimed at the club while they are sitting pretty at the top of LaLiga and preparing to face Manchester United in a Europa League play-off on Thursday.

"It's no coincidence that this information comes out now," he said. "FC Barcelona in the past had contracted the services of an external consultant to obtain reports from players in the lower categories of Spanish football, and arbitration advice, which is a service that other Spanish clubs hire.

"The news is surprising and it is no coincidence that is has come out now. Any tendentious interpretation that insinuates things that are not will receive a proportional response from the club, we will defend the honour and interests of FC Barcelona."

Barca head coach Xavi said during a press conference: "The club has made a statement, so in line with the club, [I have] no more [to say]. They are years in which I was not in the club, but I defend it."

Lionel Messi's relationship with Barcelona is unaffected by comments made by the legendary forward's brother, according to club president Joan Laporta.

Matias Messi suggested in a question and answer session on streaming platform Twitch that "no one knew" Barca prior to his younger sibling's trophy-laden spell at Camp Nou.

The 40-year-old also said he would make sure to "kick out Laporta" as part of a "good cleaning" in the boardroom if his brother ever returned to the Catalan heavyweights.

He posted an apology on his Instagram account on Wednesday, stating he "was just joking with my son and friends", but the comments did not go down well at Barca.

However, speaking at a press conference on Thursday to discuss Barca's latest accounts, Laporta insisted those remarks will not impact Messi's status at the club.

"I take away the importance of anything said by his brother," Laporta said. "He has since apologised. I don't think about it any more.

"It doesn't affect the relationship [between Messi and Barcelona] at all.

"I don't want to comment on a player from another team any further out of respect.

"Leo Messi is forever part of Barcelona and we are proud of that. He is the best in the world and the best in history."

Messi scored a club record 672 goals in 778 appearances for Barcelona across 17 seasons as a first-team player, during which time he won 35 trophies.

The Argentina international departed for Paris Saint-Germain in August 2021 and his famed number 10 shirt has since been inherited by fellow academy player Ansu Fati.

Fati has been linked with a move away from Barca in recent weeks, with Manchester United reportedly interested, but Laporta ruled out an exit in the next transfer window.

"Right now we are not considering it," he said. "I cannot predict the future, but Ansu Fati is a player with whom we have great hopes. 

"It all depends on whether he remains useful for the club and for [head coach] Xavi. He has a lot of expectations on him and we are not willing to sell the player at this time.

"We have no news that the player wants to leave, and we will continue to do what suits the club."

Laporta also confirmed Ousmane Dembele is not for sale, while captain Sergio Busquets's future beyond the end of this season when his contract expires is still unknown.

Barcelona, who are eight points clear of Real Madrid at the top of LaLiga, are back in action on Sunday with a trip to Villarreal.

Barcelona have denied allegations claiming president Joan Laporta broke club rules when handing out the Camp Nou development contract.

The 'Espai Barca' project was first approved in April 2014, when club members voted in favour of the massive remodelling job that would develop Camp Nou and the surrounding areas.

A further referendum in April 2021 ratified the financial proposal that took the project's maximum budget to €1.5billion.

It will lead to the stadium's capacity increasing by 6,000 to 105,000 spectators plus the installation of a retractable roof, while 40,000 square metres of land is set to be improved.

An announcement earlier this month confirmed Turkish company Limak would be in charge of remodelling the stadium, but a report by Spanish digital newspaper El Confidencial claimed on Monday the club's bidding process for the contract should have excluded the business in question.

According to El Confidencial, Limak should have been ineligible because it allegedly could not provide evidence of building a stadium with more than 40,000 capacity in the past 10 years and did not present two references of buildings constructed in Spain for greater than €150m over the same period.

The publication suggested the alleged oversight put Barca's building licence with the local council at risk, but the club insists the accusations are inaccurate, pointing to a "new tender process" dated from September 1, 2022.

A long statement began: "Barcelona wants to refute the story published today, Monday, January 23, 2023 in El Confidencial titled: 'Laporta broke the Barca rules to award the Camp Nou work to the Turkish company Limak'."

The letter highlighted five specific sections of the report followed by "FALSE" and an explanation, with most points coming back to Barca highlighting the start of a new tender process in September.

"The bid specifications for the restructuring work on Camp Nou were announced to all the companies that submitted bids and were effective date from September 1, 2022," the statement continued. "The terms and conditions set forth therein established no requirement for bidding companies to have built a football stadium with more than 40,000 seats or two constructions in Spain.

"Prior to this bidding process, there was a process that commenced in 2017, and which was cancelled in December 2020 by means of an official communication on the Barcelona supplier portal to all participating companies at that time.

"It was not until September 2022 when the new bidding process began, the outcome of which was for the project to be awarded to LIMAK as the best rated company.  

"There was no breach of the terms and conditions as these were associated to the new tender process, which is dated from September 1, 2022."

It added: "As we have set out previously, the document [that El Confidencial claimed to have seen] referred to is for the pre-qualification that began in 2017, and in no way corresponds to the requisites in the conditions laid down on September 1, 2022.

"The process of obtaining a building licence from Barcelona City Council is totally independent of the adjudication process for the company to carry out the construction.

"In no way is the building licence at risk because the name on the licence is that of Barcelona as the initiator of the construction, not the construction company."

Ousmane Dembele is "happy in Barcelona" and wants to stay, amid reports linking him with a move to Paris Saint-Germain in his native France.

Dembele has had a mixed time in LaLiga since arriving at Barca for big money from Borussia Dortmund in 2017, but the 25-year-old has enjoyed a productive spell since Xavi took charge last season.

He has been involved in more goals than any other Blaugrana player since Xavi became head coach in November 2021, scoring eight and providing 20 assists.

That includes six goals and seven assists in 22 games this season (17 starts), and Dembele also provided two assists in his seven appearances for France as they finished as runners-up at the World Cup in Qatar.

However, despite stories suggesting PSG could be in line to bring him to Ligue 1, the former Rennes winger told Belgian television station Eleven Sports he is content at Camp Nou.

"I signed a new contract at Barca four months ago and I'm happy here, I want to keep working and improving at Barcelona," he said. "I am good here, I am happy in Barcelona, I like my life here. The coach trusts me, and the board [trust me] too."

Dembele has just 18 months remaining on his contract, but Barca president Joan Laporta insisted on Thursday he is "not for sale", telling Sport: "If PSG come to sign him, we will tell them he is not for sale.

"He's one of the most important players that we have. He has extraordinary speed, he's a lightning bolt. Every time he gets the ball he upsets defences and yesterday [in the 4-3 Copa del Rey win against Intercity] he scored a great goal.

"He won't go for €70million euros or any amount."

Barcelona president Joan Laporta reiterated keeping Lionel Messi at the club in 2021 was impossible because the club was "in ruins" financially.

Having come through Barca's academy, Messi's departure ended a 21-year association and highlighted the seriousness of the club's economic issues.

Messi's contract expired at the end of the 2020-21 season, and although he technically became a free agent, it was widely assumed Barca would re-sign him to a new deal once room was made in the budget.

But Barca – whose debts were at €1.35billion in August 2021 – had their LaLiga salary cap slashed by €280million ahead of the 2021-22 campaign as a result of their financial problems.

As such, even with a 50 per cent wage reduction reportedly agreed, Barca still could not afford to sign Messi to a new deal, and Spanish employment law forbids employers decreasing wages beyond 50 per cent.

"I had to put Barca ahead of the best player in the history of football," Laporta told Cadena SER.

"In those moments of financial ruin I couldn't keep him. I think it was the best thing for the club."

Of course, Messi continues to be linked with a return to Barca with his Paris Saint-Germain contract set to expire at the end of the season.

Similarly, reports suggest Messi has already agreed an extension with PSG, the announcement simply delayed by his participation in – and time off after – the World Cup.

Laporta was not eager to anger PSG – with whom Barca share a frosty relationship – by speaking about Messi, though his regret about the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner not having a greater send-off might be interpreted by some as him hinting at a potential second chance.

"I prefer not to talk about Leo because he is a PSG player, as then [if I spoke about him] there are missiles that come from everywhere," he added. "We are focused on the players who are ours.

"Leo will always be part of our emblem, and I would like him to have a different ending to the one he had."

Barcelona president Joan Laporta believes a revamped version of the European Super League could launch as soon as 2025, without any Premier League clubs taking part.

Barca, along with Real Madrid and Juventus, remained committed to the Super League project in the aftermath of a failed launch in April 2021, though the other nine founding clubs quickly withdrew their support.

In October, it was revealed that plans were afoot to revive the competition, with A22 Sports Management chief executive Bernd Reichart promising an "open format" as he sought support for the proposal.

UEFA called the Super League's supporters "greedy" after meeting with Reichart the following month, while European Union Court of Justice [CJUE] advocate general Athanasios Rantos dealt a blow to the proposed competition by stating UEFA and FIFA could lawfully sanction participating clubs. 

However, Laporta remains optimistic regarding the Super League project, with the remaining clubs hopeful the CJUE will rule any UEFA sanctions are incompatible with EU competition law.

"In March or April we will have the CJUE ruling. It will be a very important sentence and I think it will benefit the clubs," Laporta told Cadena SER on Thursday.

"The Super League will be an open competition. I would not have entered this project if the competition was not open. 

"We want the governance to belong to the clubs. I hope that UEFA will occupy one more chair at the governance table. If the resolution is favourable, I think the Super League will be a reality in 2025."

All six of the Premier League clubs originally involved in the Super League – Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea and Liverpool – withdrew their support following a fierce public and media backlash to the plans in 2021.

Laporta does not expect any English sides to participate in the first edition of any future Super League, though he believes they will eventually join the competition if it succeeds.

"We will have a European competition that competes with the Premier League," he said. "I believe that the English teams will not enter at first. 

"We'd love for them to come in, but my opinion is that initially, they won't. I believe that everything will end with a merger later."

One feature of Laporta's tenure as Barca president has been his poor relationship with LaLiga president Javier Tebas, who he believes is not doing enough to ensure Spanish clubs can compete with their English counterparts.

"Our personal relationship has never been bad, but it has been tense. Tebas is a complicated person," he said. "He should be more concerned with recovering subscribers to football on television, increasing the income of Spanish football.

"We are defenders of financial control, but if you make a comparison between the Premier and the Spanish league... it is up to us to make them look at it."

Barcelona's interest in Lionel Messi back to the club is "obvious", president Joan Laporta has said.

Barca brought Messi to Europe as a youngster, and he entrenched himself as a Blaugrana legend becoming the club's all-time leading scorer and winning seven Ballons d'Or while at Camp Nou.

Messi also helped Barca win 10 LaLiga titles and four Champions League trophies during his time in Catalonia, in what was one of the club's most successful periods.

However, financial troubles meant the LaLiga giants did not renew Messi's contract when it expired in 2021, and Paris Saint-Germain swooped to bring him to the French capital on a two-year deal.

The 35-year-old lifted the World Cup with Argentina for the first time last weekend, and his impressive displays in Qatar earned him a second Golden Ball, the first man to ever achieve that feat.

With Messi showing he can still perform at the very top level, there is discussion over his future with his PSG contract coming to an end in June 2023.

 

PSG reportedly have a verbal agreement in place to extend his contract, but Laporta did not hide his desire to bring the forward back to the club, though he was keen to temper fans' excitement with financial issues still looming.

"It is obvious that I would like him to return one day," Laporta told BarcaTV. "I would love to, but we cannot generate expectations.

"He is a PSG player, who has a contract with them.

"What I don't want is to create expectations that have great difficulty. The [financial] levers were made to save the club because it was in a very difficult situation.

"We would like very much that he came back, but it is something that [we will have to see]."

Messi's World Cup win has seen him instilled as the favourite to win an eighth Ballon d'Or in 2023.

Laporta is one of many who believe Messi is the greatest player in football history, explaining: "For us, he is the best of all time.

"We have had him here and he has become a player here. He will always be linked to Barca."

A Messi return would see him play under a former team-mate in Xavi, who watched his team bounce back from a group-stage Champions League exit to head into the World Cup break top of LaLiga, two points above rivals Real Madrid.

Winning LaLiga this season would show Barcelona's "recovery process is on the right track", according to president Joan Laporta.

Barca have suffered from poor finances and disappointing performances on the pitch in recent years.

They last won the league title in the 2018-19 campaign, while a group-stage exit in this season's Champions League means their seven-year wait to claim Europe's top club prize for a sixth time goes on.

Barca are, however, enjoying a domestic resurgence under Xavi, who returned as coach after a legendary playing career with the club.

Xavi is Barca's eighth head coach since Pep Guardiola left in 2012 and his team led LaLiga heading into the World Cup break.

"The priority objective is LaLiga," Laporta told reporters. "Clear and low.

"The dressing room, with Xavi at the helm, is clear about it.

"We want to win LaLiga to show that the club's recovery process is on the right track."

It appears it will be a two-horse race for the title with Real Madrid, who are two points behind Barca but came out victorious when the sides met at the Santiago Bernabeu in October.

Barca will get their league campaign back underway against city rivals Espanyol on December 31.

Xavi and Joan Laporta paid tribute to Lionel Messi following his long-awaited World Cup triumph, the latter stating "historical justice has been done."

The former Barcelona star led Argentina to glory in Qatar as La Albiceleste defeated reigning champions France 4-2 on penalties following an enthralling 3-3 draw at Lusail Stadium.

The seven-time Ballon d'Or winner finally added the sport's biggest prize to his collection following a glittering career that has also seen him win 11 league titles, four Champions Leagues, three Club World Cups and the Copa America.

And the Paris Saint-Germain forward's achievements were by saluted by Barca head coach Xavi with his former team-mate also empathising with Ousmane Dembele and Jules Kounde, who were on the losing French side.

"It was an extraordinary final for the spectator, one of the best matches I've seen in my life," he said at the premiere of a new Prime Video docuseries entitled 'FC Barcelona, A New Era.'

"I think Argentina were better and deserved it. I feel sorry for Dembele and Kounde. But we must congratulate Leo Messi, who now has his World Cup, something that could not be missing in his career."

Blaugrana president Laporta added: "He deserves it, he is the best of all time, historical justice has been done.

"We would have been happy if our Kounde and Dembele won it, but I think all of us who love and are grateful to Messi for what he has given us are happy for him."

Joan Laporta believes Barcelona's strong contingent of players within the Spain squad can help propel the national side to victory at the World Cup.

A 7-0 demolition of Costa Rica was followed by a 1-1 draw with Germany and has put the 2010 champions on the brink of qualifying for the knockout stage.

Young Barca pair Gavi and Pedri have caught the eye in midfield during the opening two fixtures, while Ferran Torres hit a brace against Costa Rica.

Laporta expressed his pride at their performances, with the Barcelona president believing Spain's positive displays are down to head coach Xavi's work at club level.

"I think it's fantastic. It gives pride for Barcelona to see how the national team is playing and how our players are doing," he told AS.

"[Spain head coach] Luis Enrique has been able to take on all the pressure, which is a way to relieve all the pressure on the players.

"He has been very brave betting on very young players who are falling in love with the world and it just so happens that most are from Barca.

"The good role of Luis Enrique's national team is also thanks to the good work that Xavi is doing in Barcelona, where there are the most players.

"For me, Spain, along with Brazil and France, are the big favourites of the tournament."

Spain face Japan in their final group match, where victory would confirm top spot.

Frenkie de Jong blames Barcelona's hierarchy, rather than head coach Xavi, for the uncertainty which has surrounded his Camp Nou future in recent months.

De Jong – who is set to make his World Cup debut when the Netherlands face Senegal in their Group A opener on Monday – was strongly linked with a move to Manchester United in the last transfer window.

Despite the midfielder repeatedly stating his preference to stay put, Barca reportedly viewed him as the club's most saleable asset as they looked to fund big-money moves for Robert Lewandowski, Jules Kounde and Raphinha.

With Xavi making a series of vague statements on De Jong's future at the time, the Netherlands international believes the Barca boss was put in an uncomfortable position by those above him.

Asked whether Joan Laporta's administration was responsible for the transfer saga, De Jong told De Telegraaf: "I blame these people, but I have nothing to do with them.

"Yes, for me they are Barca because they run it. I don't see them when I'm at the club during my daily routine.

"Xavi, it's true that he left the door open to the possibility of me leaving because he never said 'Frenkie stays'. But I don't blame Xavi. 

"I never had the feeling that Xavi was against me, and I think it was difficult for him to talk about all this."

Despite reports suggesting Barca were willing to let him leave, De Jong has continued to play a central role for the Blaugrana this season, making 17 appearances for Xavi's team in all competitions.

De Jong revealed he is targeting an extended stay at the club he joined from Ajax in 2019, adding: "I am very happy in Barcelona. 

"When I play it is great and in terms of living here life is perfect. I see myself at Barca. Personally, I see myself here eight or 10 more years."

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