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Apr 9, 2014

Zubizarreta brushes off Barca exit talk

Andoni Zubizarreta has insisted his future as Barcelona sporting director is not in question, adding that his planning for next season is continuing as normal despite FIFA imposing a transfer ban on the club.

Ledwith: Crunch time for Barcelona

Zubizarreta’s future has been the subject of speculation since Catalan radio reported he had offered to resign during a heated conversation with the club’s directors last week.

That meeting took place hours after FIFA announced that Barca had been found guilty of breaking youth-transfer regulations, potentially leaving the club with a serious lack of cover in both the goalkeeping and central defensive positions for next season.

The former Blaugrana player denied he had offered to resign from his current position when speaking to Canal Plus after Barca’s 3-1 La Liga win over Real Betis on Saturday, but club president Josep Maria Bartomeu just a day later suggested he had said he could step aside.

Speaking ahead of Barca’s Champions League quarterfinal second leg at Atletico Madrid on Wednesday, Zubizarreta told AS he would not discuss what had been said in the meeting, adding that it was now time to move on.

“That is a subject which we have got over,” he said. “The important thing is to be in harmony with the board and to have its confidence. I do not usually talk about what happens in these meetings. It was exactly the same as those we had before. I am not getting into different versions or interpretations of what happened. I believe much more important things have happened for Barcelona.”

With Barca having said they will appeal the ban to FIFA, and the Court of Arbitration for Sport if necessary, Zubizarreta suggested that he is confident the club will be able to sign players in the coming summer transfer window.

“I am working totally normally for next season, with the same normality as two weeks ago,” he said.

Should the ban come into force, Barcelona could be left without any senior goalkeepers, given currently injured first choice Victor Valdes is set to leave this summer, and back-up Jose Manuel Pinto is also out of contract.

Pinto, 38, has said he would like to continue at the club but has not been offered a deal for next season, and Zubizarreta again refused to say if he wanted the Cadiz-born keeper to stay at the Camp Nou.

“The conversations with Pinto were transparent,” he said. “We must work knowing the situation we are in. But each week everything changes and you must be ready for that. When you have a plan, sometimes it can get thrown up in the air. He knows our position and the communication is very clear.”

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