Sports

Barca to offload 12 players to keep Messi

…as Suarez Juve move collapses

Financially troubled Barcelona have put 12 players up for sale. The potential exits include Luis Suarez, Martin Braithwaite and Samuel Umtiti.
This is part of the mass clearout that the new coach, Ronald Koeman has embarked on in other to transform the club.
Last season saw how badly exposed many first-team players were after an 8-2 demolition from Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
It saw Quique Setien lose his job and Koeman is not prepared to go the same way. As a result, he is looking to axe up to 12 players in the remaining weeks of the transfer window and bring in his own personnel.
According to Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona also need to free up their extortionate wage bill – though Messi takes up a huge chunk of that.
But with the 33-year-old now staying, other cuts now must be made.
Suarez is the most high-profile of potential departures and a move to Juventus was in the pipeline only for a late bid from Atletico Madrid to scupper the transfer.
It is believed the Uruguay international is keen on staying in Spain, where he is settled with his family.
Also included on the exit list are Braithwaite, Umtiti, Jean-Clair Todibo, Nelson Semedo, Arturo Vidal and Rafinha.
Todibo has attracted attention from Premier League clubs Everton and Leicester while Leeds United are a surprise side eyeing Rafinha.
Inter Milan are on the verge of signing Vidal, with Antonio Conte a massive fan of the Chilean having worked with him at Juventus.
Mundo Deportivo also further report that Umtiti was keen on staying at the Nou Camp.
However, Koeman told the defender that his future does not lie at Barcelona and former club Lyon could snap him up.
And in a related development, Suarez is no longer Juventus-bound. His inability to secure Italian citizenship and passport are the reasons the unsettled Uruguayan has to look for other options.
Sources note that Suarez’s primary reason for rejecting a move to Turin was due to his inability to attain an Italian passport before October 6, which would mean he’d be ineligible to play in next season’s Champions League.
Even though he still trains in Barcelona, he had been told by new boss, Ronald Koeman, that his services were no longer required at the club.
He is not alone in the axe list. Other senior squad members include Ivan Rakitic and Arturo Vidal.
Koeman is keen to oversee a new era at Barca following his appointment, and now has the assurance that Lionel Messi will remain at Camp Nou for his debut campaign at the helm.
With Suarez out, the club is working hard to secure the signing of Lyon captain Memphis Depay to seemingly replace the 33-year-old Suarez.
Barcelona will have to sell the Uruguayan before they can fund a deal for the Depay.
The Spanish giants had earlier attempted to hasten Suarez’s potential move to Juventus  by saying they’d pay off part of the final year of the Uruguayan’s contract at the club – worth around £15m.

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