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Zubizarreta spoke to the press this Wednesday lunchtime / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB

Andoni Zubizarreta spoke to the press this morning and made it clear that the Barça 2014/15 squad will include fewer players than the 25 of last season. He couldn’t give an exact number, but said they were looking at somewhere between 21 and 23 players. “This is partly because so many Barça B players last year were still a bit too young” he explained. “But after such a great season in the second division, several of them are now ready to play at the higher level at any time.”Our need for a centre back is one we share with 80% or 90% of the other big European clubsOne player who’ll be included for sure is Luis Suárez, but when pressed for details of the situation with FIFA, Zubizarreta wished to make it clear that “our lawyers have told us to be extremely careful about what we say on the matter. We are analysing all of the information that will need to be presented in order to be able to defend both the player and the club. We’ll need to be prudent and discrete.”

The director of sports refused to accept the suggestion that Suarez’s image may not be right for FC Barcelona. “We accept all human beings here, imperfections and all, and what they have done right and what they have done wrong” he said. “I am sure that Luis Suárez will be a positive role model while he is in Barcelona”.

At a press conference shared with manager Luis Enrique, he was also asked about the on-going centre back saga. “We are working in the market to cover this need” he explained. “But it’s a need we share with 80% or 90% of the other big European clubs.” However, he did admit that the club has been in contact with Valencia regarding Jeremy Mathieu, but preferred not to give away any further details, especially with respect to the club’s willingness or not to pay the player’s buyout clause.Xavi and Alves have valid contracts but have won the right to dicuss their situationsThe names of Xavi Hernández and Dani Alves  also came up, and Zubi insisted that “those two players have valid contracts but have won the right to talk, especially Xavi. And that’s what we plan to do.” Luis Enrique did admit that he discussed the matter with Xavi, “but it’s not a closed case. We are still waiting to hear his decision”.

Zubizarreta ended by commenting on the situation concerning Bojan Krkic, who is currently back training with the FCB first team. “We have discussed his situation with his agent and he’s trying to work out the best option for him” he said. “On Sunday he decided to come here, because he is a first team player. But we’re going to have to sort his situation out, and the sooner the better”.

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