Barcelona have confirmed the departure this summer of Dani Alves, but insisted that Javier Mascherano and Neymar, both of whom have been linked with moves away from Camp Nou, will be staying.
The 33-year-old Alves has 12 months left on his contract but has asked to leave and has been linked with a number of clubs, most notably Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Manchester United.
Barcelona technical director Robert Fernández revealed the departure in a press conference.
“I don’t like the idea that Alves is leaving,” he said. “His performance has been fantastic both on and off the field, but it is his decision to go and we must respect it.”
Robert added: “Alves’ contract was expired since last year and the club were in a complicated situation. He was a very important player so the club opted to renew.
“So that a player is happy, one looks for situations that benefit everyone and in this case, the clause was that he could be a free agent after one year. Clubs do not always win in these negotiations.
“Last year we renewed under special circumstances because we could not sign players [FIFA ban]. At that time the renewal was logical and normal.
“He had had a great season. He has always done really well here but now he has decided to go. That is a personal decision and there is nothing more. He has communicated with us his intention to leave the club.”
Robert said that Aleix Vidal, who joined from Sevilla last season, would be Alves’ replacement.
“Aleix Vidal was signed with the thinking that Alves could one day leave the club, and we also have Sergi Roberto,” he said.
“We have faith in Aleix Vidal. He has international experience, he is coming from a great season at Sevilla and we also have the option of Sergi Roberto.”
Alves has been a regular for Barcelona since joining from Sevilla in 2008. He has won six league titles, three Spanish Cups, three European Cups and three Club World Cups, on his way to becoming one of football’s most decorated players.
Of Mascherano and Neymar who have been linked with moves away, Robert insisted they were staying.
“Neymar will continue. He will be here for many years to come,” he said.
“I don’t have the slightest doubt that Mascherano will stay here. He is a vital player.”