Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Martino stands firm over Fabregas

Manchester United are determined to sign Cesc Fabregas

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.

The Premier League champions have made two offers for the former Arsenal midfielder, for a reported £25million and £30million, both of which were rejected by the Catalan club.

On Thursday, United manager David Moyes told reporters that negotiations for Fabregas were "ongoing" but Martino, speaking in his first press conference as coach of Barcelona, insisted the player was staying at the club 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."

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