MADRID (Reuters) – La Liga champions Barcelona are closing in on prized Valencia striker David Villa while the Catalans expect a longer wait before they clinch Cesc Fabregas’s return to the Nou Camp.
Joan Laporta, the club’s outgoing president, said Tuesday at a Barca foundation event talks with Valencia for the capture of Villa were “on track” and he expected them “to be resolved soon.”
Rafael Yuste, one of the Catalan club’s vice presidents, said bringing Arsenal captain Fabregas back to Barca, where he was a youth player, was “more complicated because lengthy negotiations with his club lie ahead.”
“But both players want to come and that makes everything easier,” Yuste said in a Monday night radio interview.
Asked about Yuste’s comments, an Arsenal spokesperson said the Premier League club never commented on transfer speculation and a Valencia spokeswoman said the La Liga club had no immediate comment.
Fabregas still with Arsenal
Fabregas, who has several years left on his Arsenal contract, is recovering from a cracked bone in his right leg and should be fit to help European champions Spain in their bid for a first World Cup triumph in South Africa starting next month.
If he moved back to Barca, the 23-year-old would join international team mates Xavi and Andres Iniesta in the La Liga champions’ midfield.
Laporta, whose quotes were carried on Barca’s website (www.fcbarcelona.com), quashed speculation in the Spanish media that Xavi would be sold to make way for Fabregas.
Asked by reporters whether Xavi might leave, Laporta replied with a firm “no,” according to the club’s website.
Barca won their second consecutive league title Sunday and were one of the club’s Spanish media reported were chasing 28-year-old Spain striker Villa last year.
Reports of his imminent move to the Catalan capital have led to speculation Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who joined from Inter Milan last year, will be sold on after failing to live up to expectations this season.
“He has a contract with us and we are satisfied,” Laporta said.
Villa said at the weekend he was happy in Valencia and committed to the club, who finished a distant third in La Liga and qualified for the Champions League, and he did not want to be distracted during the World Cup.
“I’m not going to be waiting expectantly to see what happens. I have learned my lesson,” Villa told Spanish television station Canal 9.
“I have a four-year contract with Valencia with a big buy-out clause, I’m happy and committed to the project here,” Villa added. “I don’t think the club would want to sell me unless it was necessary.”
Laporta and Yuste said French forward Thierry Henry could be on his way to a club in the United States.
The France captain and Barca had to “put the finishing touches (to a deal) so that both are happy,” Yuste told Ona FM radio Monday.
Laporta said Henry was very popular in Major League Soccer (MLS), adding: “We are working in that direction and what we will do is reconcile the interests of Barca and the player.”