BARCELONA: Brazil international defender Dani Alves has told Barcelona he intends to leave after eight successful seasons but compatriot Neymar and Argentine midfielder Javier Mascherano will extend their stays, the Spanish champions confirmed on Thursday (Friday in Manila).
“He [Alves] has already told us he intends to leave the club,” Barcelona technical director Robert Fernandez said of the player currently in the United States getting ready to contest the Copa America with Brazil.
“We don’t like the fact he’s going. His behavior on and off the field here has been so exemplary and now he’s decided to go. The decision is his and we will respect that.
“Neymar will reach an agreement with the club and will stay here for many years to come.”
Fernandez described the 31-year-old defensive midfield general Mascherano as vital, and a truly important player for the team.
“I have not the slightest doubt about him staying,” insisted Fernandez.
“We are in talks with him at the moment. We are very clear on this and he [Mascherano] and everyone else at the club knows it. We will reach a deal which is good for all of us.”
Catalan daily Sport claimed on Thursday that Alves had already signed with Italian champions Juventus. Rival daily Mundo Deportivo said, however, the full-back was also considering offers from Manchester United and Paris Saint Germain.
Alves, 33, is under contract until June 2017 after signing a two-year extension during 2015 at a period where Barcelona were banned from signing new players.
The contract extension also included a get-out clause at the end of the 2015-2016 season, meaning Alves will leave as a free agent.
“At the time the contract extension was a logical decision as he’s had a great season,” said Fernandez.
Alves has won six La Liga titles and three Champions League crowns with Barcelona since joining from Sevilla in 2008.
Playmaker Neymar wants to stay with the club for many seasons, Fernandez told a press conference.
Neymar, who joined Barcelona in 2013 from Brazil’s Santos in a deal which has haunted all concerned because of alleged hidden payments, is under contract until 2018.
But the 24-year-old prolific Brazil striker has also played brilliantly for the Catalan club as part of a much-feared attacking trident alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.Speculation has mounted, however, around whether or not the slender forward would extend his stay or make another lucrative move.
“Negotiations are underway. I have three years left on my contract, I’m confident we’ll reach an agreement,” said Neymar.
Neymar will not contest the Copa America this month but instead will lead his nation’s medal drive at the Olympic Games in Rio in August.
Arsenal’s Spanish international right-back Hector Bellerin is thought to be Barcelona’s key target to replace Alves.
The 21-year-old was born in Barcelona and spent eight seasons in the Barcelona youth teams before joining the Gunners in 2013.