BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Cesc Fabregas wants to remain at Barcelona, according to coach Tito Vilanova.
On Monday, Manchester United offered 30 million euros ($39 million) to bring the 26-year-old former Arsenal captain back to the Premier League. Speaking at the Spanish champion's first pre-season press conference on Tuesday, Vilanova said it was good that Barcelona received offers for its players, but that he had spoken to Fabregas and settled the matter.
"I had a talk with him and he said he wanted to stay here and did not want to go to another big club," Vilanova said. Vilanova will likely need to rely on Fabregas more this season since midfielder Thiago Alcantara has opted to play at Bayern Munich under former club coach Pep Guardiola.
Vilanova said that he also needed to respond to comments Guardiola had made in Italy. While on a pre-season training session with Bayern near Lake Garda, Guardiola caused a media storm in Spain by saying that quite a few things this year had "crossed the line." He said Barcelona's directors had unfairly criticized him over how he reacted after Vilanova had to go in for medical treatment.
"Pep got it wrong and it surprised me," Vilanova said, adding that no one on Barcelona's board of directors had used his illness to attack Guardiola. He said that Guardiola had visited him early on during his stay in New York where he had received treatment for cancer in a saliva gland.
"But during my recovery, I spent two months there and did not see him, and that wasn't due to me. He was my friend and I needed him and he was not there for me. I would have acted differently," Vilanova said.
"It was I who was alone, who went through a bad time," Vilanova said. "It was I who needed help." Vilanova said that he still thought Lionel Messi was the best player, but he was happy with the arrival of Neymar.
"There won't be any problems with them understanding each other, they play in complementary positions," he said. "That one should be shadowed will give greater freedom to the other." Vilanova said the club was looking for a center back, and Paris Saint-Germain defender Thiago Silva would be a good choice.
"I would like him to come," said Vilanova, adding that he wasn't focused exclusively on the 28-year-old Brazil player. "I'll acquire a central defender for sure."