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May 30, 2014

Barcelona president praises Koke

Barcelona centre-back Gerard Piqué said he was happy with the appointment of Luís Enrique as the Catalan club's new manager.

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has called Koke a "spectacular player" while claiming he does not think Atletico Madrid would agree to sell their young midfielder.

- Tomas: Barcelona season review

Koke is among the most sought-after players in Europe, with Manchester United and Bayern Munich also rumoured to be set to bid this summer for a player who burst to prominence as Atletico won last season's La Liga title and reached the Champions League final and is now set to feature heavily for Spain at the coming World Cup.

Marca claim Barca are ready to meet the 60 million euro buyout clause to make the 22-year-old the most expensive Spanish player ever, with Mundo Deportivo also saying the Catalan club had long been planning a move for the Madrid native.

Speaking on Al Primer Toque on Thursday night the Blaugrana chief said any club would want such a talent but he did not think Atletico would be so keen to let him go.

"[Koke] is a spectacular player," Bartomeu said. "I am sure any team would want him, but Atletico are not selling as they want to keep their level."

During a wide ranging question and answer session 'Barto' also said that he was a fan of Sevilla midfielder Ivan Rakitic.

"[Rakitic] is under contract with his club," he said. "I cannot say that the coaches like him, but he is a great player."

Barca's interest in such midfielders, and comments by new coach Luis Enrique at his presentation, have fuelled speculation that long-serving playmaker Xavi Hernandez could leave the Camp Nou this summer.

Bartomeu said such talk was premature, and if Xavi was happy to stay the club would be happy to keep him.

"[Xavi] has two years left, the coaches are thinking about him for the future," he said. "If Xavi wants to stay, next season he will be at Barcelona."

Another Barca midfielder whose future has been questioned is Cesc Fabregas, but Bartomeu claimed the former Arsenal man was not for sale.

"It is normal that everyone looks at Fabregas, but Barcelona do not want to sell him," he said.

Sandro Rosell's former right-hand man accepted the club were keen to sign a central defender this summer, but would not confirm widely suspected interest in Paris Saint-Germain's young Brazil international Marquinhos.

"I am not saying that Marquinhos will be the centre-back, there are talks with various players and someone will come in," Bartomeu said.

With Alexis Sanchez future at the Camp Nou under question, Barca could move for another attacker this summer, with Sergio Aguero one attractive option, Bartomeu appeared to suggest.

"Aguero is a City player, he and many other players would sell jerseys," he said.

Bartomeu was clearer on his club's situation regarding its former striker David Villa, who joined Atletico in a complicated transfer 12 months ago, a deal which could see Barca gain a further transfer fee should the 32-year-old stay at the Estadio Vicente Calderon.

"Barcelona do not get money if he does not renew with Atletico," he said. "If he stays at Atletico, then we do."

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