It's official: Barcelona are not trying to sign Robin van Persie
So what was he doing at Barca's team hotel? Having a coffee with fellow Dutchman Afellay
AS THE DUST settles in Barcelona, a city of broken dreams and a little Argentine who couldn't hit a barn door at six paces, it appears the once great Catalan club have already started setting their sights a little bit lower.
As we reported last week, Barcelona had been strongly linked with a move for Arsenal striker Robin van Persie. But following their embarrassing exit from the Champions League against ten-man Chelsea, the Spanish club have now admitted they won't be making a move for the Dutch ace in the summer.
Speaking to the Sport Review, spokesman Tony Freixa said: "Van Persie is a great player but [we have] no intention of signing him."
Whether Barcelona will make a move now for another Arsenal striker, Marouane Chamakh, remains unclear, but the misfiring Moroccan is the sort of player the club might have to content themselves with now that their reputation – like that of the Spanish economy – is in ruins.
Asked to explain why Van Persie had been seen at the Barcelona team hotel in London during the first leg of Champions League tie with Chelsea, Freixa replied that the Arsenal striker had simply "had a coffee" with Dutch team-mate Ibrahim Afellay.
From one bunch of Spanish losers to another. Real Madrid winger Jese Rodriguez is apparently on the brink of joining Benfica at the expense of Arsenal. The 19-year-old has been tracked for the Gunners for months but it seems that Benfica have done what many an opposition forward has done to the Arsenal defence this season and nipped in unnoticed.
Talksport reports that Rodriguez, likened by some to a young Cristiano Ronaldo minus the taut pectorals, has agreed to join the Portuguese club after becoming disillusioned at the lack of game time given to him at the Bernabeu.
Disillusioned is an apt word, allegedly, to describe how the Liverpool board feel about Andy Caroll ever since he arrived at Anfield from Newcastle last year in a £35m deal. According to the Metro, the Reds will farm out the frontman on loan next season as Kenny Dalglish looks to freshen up his underperforming squad.
The paper claims that Valencia's Roberto Soldado, Athletic Bilbao's Fernando Llorente and FC Groningen's David Texeira are all being eyed up by the sour-faced Scot.
In order to free up space in the dressing room for any new signings, Carroll will be loaned out "should the right offer arrive". What that offer might be, the Metro declines to speculate. Given Carroll's strike rate in the last 16 months – eight goals in 43 appearances – a few hundred quit should do the trick.
Finally, The Sun says that Manchester City and United will go "head-to-head" this summer for the services of Eden Hazard after Lille president Michel Seydoux admitted on Wednesday that the Belgian winger wants a new challenge. "Eden wants a European experience outside France. We cannot hold him," said Seydoux.
Sky Blues boss Roberto Mancini has apparently made "a personal check" on the 22-year-old Hazard while Manchester United head honcho Alex Ferguson is also said to be a fan. ·