Barca won't let EPL dominate transfers

SAN FRANCISCO • Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has vowed to challenge the big spenders in the English Premier League (EPL) for the world's best players and prevent them from dominating the transfer market .

Following a new £5.136 billion (S$10.9 billion) television rights agreement that will start in the 2016/17 EPL season, Bartomeu is well aware that the richest football league will get richer.

But he is not afraid of losing players such as Lionel Messi to the likes of Manchester United. The latter's unique commercial power will see them begin their world-record £750 million kit deal with adidas next month.

Speaking ahead of yesterday's friendly between Barcelona and United at the Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, he said: "We are going to fight this (threat from the Premier League).

"It's true that the Premier League right now is the best league competition in the world, not only in a sporting way but in terms of income too.

"Right now in Spain, we have a new law that obliges the clubs to sell all the TV rights jointly because we have to follow the Premier League. It is a reference (point) as an organisation, it's the big domestic competition and, in La Liga, we are learning a lot of things from them."

"But we are going to fight against the Premier League. I talk about competition because we want to have the best players in our league.

"This is also a nice competition and we want people to watch it, not only the Premier League."

The newly re-elected Barca president also warned United that the Catalan giants will not allow forward Pedro Rodriguez to leave for anything less than his release clause fee of £22 million.

United manager Louis van Gaal is reportedly keen on signing the Spain international, who wants more playing time than he is getting at Barca.

But Bartomeu insisted that Barca will not let Pedro exit on the cheap.

"We have not received any offers for any player," he revealed.

"I refer back to what head coach Luis Enrique said, 'If someone wants to sign our players, then the release clause must be met.'

"So far, no one has made an offer so we are calm."

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 26, 2015, with the headline 'Barca won't let EPL dominate transfers'. Print Edition | Subscribe