Real Betis coach Pepe Mel says that selling Manchester City and Chelsea target Benat Etxebarria for less than €20 million would be a “disaster”, while Jose Alberto Canas will not leave the club for Swansea or anyone else until the summer.
Aware that Benat’s contract ends in June 2014 both City and Chelsea are reportedly interested in sealing a cut-price transfer, however the verdiblancos boss told reporters in Seville on Thursday the Spanish international playmaker would not be sold unless a club triggered his release clause.
“Benat’s clause is €20 million and he will only leave for €20 million,” Mel said. “To sell him for anything less would be a disaster. The club must defend its position and Benat knows that. To be able to go the market and find a replacement, the only number is €20 million. He has one more year left on his contract and he can fulfill that.”
Benat’s fellow midfielder Canas has just six months left on his deal. According to reports in the UK media the former Betis youth product, 25, has reportedly already agreed terms with Swansea, who are willing to offer around €500,000 to push through a deal during the current transfer window.
Mel admitted that contract negotiations with Canas had ended, but said he was certain the player would not leave until the summer.
“I am 100% sure that he will not stay here after June 30,” he said. “Knowing his commitment to the club and his teammates, he will give 100% while he is here. (On Friday at Real Zaragoza), he will play.”
The present focus at Betis, who sit fifth in the Primera Division, was on strengthening the squad to help their push for European qualification, Mel said.
“To fight for the top positions, you need to be reinforcing the squad,” he said. “We have a month to go, and options to reinforce the squad in some positions which can be improved. The club must know there is a risk the squad cannot compete over these five very important months.”
His side went into the winter break hurting after a 1-2 home loss to Real Mallorca, making a win at Zaragoza in Friday’s first game back extra important, Mel said.
“The only thing of use to us in a win,” he said. “It is an important game as it is the next one. It is the first of the year and we went away with a bad taste in our mouths. We hope that does not happen again. Points can fly away, they do not come back, and we always have to fight to get them.”