Transfer talk: Barcelona’s Luis Enrique seeks patience from defender Martin Montoya
Barcelona coach Luis Enrique urged defender Martin Montoya to stay and fight for his place after the player’s agent said he aims to leave in January, having attracted interest from other European clubs.
The full-back, 23, signed a new contract earlier this year, believing that he was in line to replace Dani Alves as the club’s regular right back, but his chances have been limited and he now appears to be fourth in the pecking order.
Brazilian Douglas played in the Copa del Rey win on Wednesday over lower-league Huesca, while utility man Adriano also seems to be ahead of Montoya in Enrique’s plans.
The Barca coach, however, denies that he has given up on the home-grown talent, who has been linked to several English Premier League clubs, including Liverpool.
“I know Martin very well and it is difficult for me to rule out players, and so imagine what it would be like for a player that I had with me in the youth team,” Enrique said ahead of today’s Catalan derby at home against Espanyol.
“I have only words of praise for his effort and willingness. The situation can change in any moment and he is working hard for that to happen, so all I can do is try to motivate him to keep doing what he is doing and make it difficult for his teammates.
“I don’t want to talk about the possibility of players leaving.”
Montoya’s agent, Juan de Dios Carrasco, told Spanish radio on Friday that the player has had enough.
“Montoya will leave, 100 per cent, in the winter transfer window,” he told Radio Marca.
“At the moment we are trying to find the best club for Martin’s career. In Germany, England and Italy, there are clubs that are studying his position.”
Yesterday, champions Atletico Madrid leapfrogged Barca into second in La Liga with a hard-fought 2-0 victory away to Elche.
Jose Maria Gimenez opened the scoring in spectacular fashion just past the quarter-hour mark with his first goal for the club, and a Mario Mandukic strike just after the break was enough to seal the win for Diego Simeone’s men.
In Italy, misfiring Fernando Torres is expected to start on the AC Milan bench when they travel to high-flying Genoa today, looking to build on last week’s encouraging 2-0 home win over Udinese.
Torres has scored only once for Milan since joining on loan from Chelsea at the start of the season, and that came at the end of September in a 2-2 draw away to Empoli.
The Spaniard has not played since the 1-1 derby draw with Inter two weeks ago, when he was replaced by Keisuke Honda in the 73rd minute, and sat on the bench last week when Jeremy Menez hit a double to move Milan up to fifth.
With youngster Stephan El Shaarawy also in solid form, Torres is not expected to start today, but manager Filippo Inzaghi gave mixed signals about the Spaniard’s participation.
“He needs a goal, but in this period, it’s best to let him rest, so that he can return better both physically and mentally,” Inzaghi said yesterday.
“I think he [Torres] just needs one goal. I wanted him at the club and now it’s my duty to try all the way. I hope that he can soon score again, or tomorrow.”
With Gian Piero Gasperini’s Genoa sitting in fourth position, 12 points behind Juventus but level with Napoli in the third and last Champions League qualifying spot, Inzaghi expects a tough encounter at the Luigi Ferraris Stadium.
“Genoa are on an eight-match unbeaten run, so we know the difficulties, but we’re also going through a good moment,” he said.
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal branded speculation about the transfer funds at his disposal as “disgusting”. United spent around £150 million (Dh858m) on new players during the summer and reports suggest Van Gaal will be handed between £100m and £200m to improve his squad in 2015. But the Dutchman was reluctant to discuss the matter during a briefing and claimed it was disrespectful to his current staff. “I think it’s disgusting, always writing about numbers,” he said. “I don’t think that [United executive vice-chairman] Ed Woodward said anything about that; I don’t think I have said anything about that. It is disrespectful to my players and I don’t like to talk about it. I have to work with the selection I have and I have respect for my selection and I believe in my players.” United visit Southampton in the Premier League tomorrow, where a victory would lift Van Gaal’s side to third place.
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Published: December 7, 2014 04:00 AM