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SBD Global/August 18, 2017/Franchises

Barcelona Welcomes New Signing Paulinho; Club VP Calls For 'Respect Not Insults'

Barcelona VP Jordi Mestre said that the board would prefer "respect not insults" after the club unveiled Paulinho as its fourth signing of the summer on Thursday, according to Sam Marsden of ESPN.com. Paulinho joins Barça from Chinese Super League side Guangzhou Evergrande for €40M ($47M) in a transfer which "sparked an online campaign" calling for club President Josep Maria Bartomeu "to resign." The campaign centers around a "string of poor management decisions" supporters feel the club has made. Mestre: "Fans are free to express what feelings they want. We would prefer respect, not insults, but I have no knowledge that Bartomeu will resign [because of the campaign]. There have been better times during our mandate, but we've come through difficult times. So we need to keep working hard and hope once again that things will work out for the better." Mestre was also asked if, "following the departure of Neymar" and the Spanish Super Cup loss to Real Madrid, he was "worried" about Lionel Messi not signing the contract extension that was agreed upon in June. Mestre said, "We have spoken about things and agreed things and it's just a question of setting a date to sign the papers. We're quite clear about this, we've been sorting things out over several months. I would be very surprised if Messi didn't sign his extension" (ESPN.com, 8/17). NOT EASY: ESPN.com reported Barcelona Technical Secretary Robert Fernández acknowledged the club is in a "very difficult situation" as it looks to secure deals for Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho and Borussia Dortmund's Ousmane Dembélé. Barça GM Pep Segura said on Wednesday that the club was "close" to securing deals for the duo. But Liverpool Manager Jürgen Klopp said on Thursday that there was "nothing new" on Coutinho and Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke said that Barcelona has "not come a millimetre closer" to agreeing to a deal for Dembélé. Robert said of Coutinho and Dembélé, "Not just Barça but any team looking for top quality players are getting involved in a very difficult situation in this market. Why? Because the market is where clubs like us want to sign top quality players. There's no buyout clauses, so that makes things trickier. Yes, we are negotiating with clubs to make several signings, but in all awareness of the difficulty" (ESPN.com, 8/17).
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