Zubizarreta hopeful of Iniesta extension
Barcelona must manage without Messi
Barcelona sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta says he is optimistic Andres Iniesta will soon sign a new contract, while reminding concerned fans that negotiations with top players take time to complete.
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Iniesta, 29, is out of contract in June 2014. Last September he reportedly rejected an initial offer to extend that deal, leading Barca president Sandro Rosell and secretary Toni Freixa to publicly say a bigger effort would be made to put the midfielder just below top earner Lionel Messi on the Catalan club’s salary scale.
Iniesta himself has said that money is not an issue for him, but he wants to feel right about any new deal. The uncertainty has led to speculation that Manchester City and Manchester United could make huge offers to tempt him to England.
Zubizarreta told Catalan station TV3 that the talks with Iniesta’s representatives were progressing as normal.
"Iniesta’s case is progressing, progressing," he said. "These are big names in football, they do not renew from one day to the next. I am optimistic."
Zubizarreta, who himself is expected to sign a new contract in the coming weeks, said the club were also working on offers for Gerard Pique, Marc Bartra and Martin Montoya.
"From [Iniesta] we will go on with Pique’s renewal, from there with Bartra’s," he said. "And with Montoya we are also going well."
A lack of urgency over Pique’s situation is understandable as he has two years left on his current contract. However, Barca might be expected to be particularly keen to conclude renewals with the younger defenders as their current deals end next summer.
Inter Milan, Bayern Munich, Napoli, Arsenal and Liverpool are among the clubs who have previously been linked with right-back Montoya, 22.
Centre-half Bartra, also 22, was called up this week to Spain’s senior squad and is thought to have interested the same two English sides, as well as German duo Bayern Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund.
The former Barca goalkeeper, whose recent trip to Germany led to speculation Borussia Moenchengladbach's Marc-Andre ter Stegen had been identified as a replacement for departing Blaugrana No. 1 Victor Valdes, said he hoped his travels this week did not spark any more stories.
"Tomorrow I am going to travel to Germany," Zubi said. "I am going to Frankfurt to then go to Birmingham. To see the facilities of the English FA. Nobody should think anything else."