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FC Barcelona News: 2 July 2011; Copa America Begins, NextGen Groups Announced, Real Join Cesc Race

Messi didn't have one of his best games against Bolivia
Messi didn't have one of his best games against Bolivia

Barca moves to ward off midfielder Thiago Alcántara's many suitors | SI
Barcelona has never publicly said it wanted to sell Thiago and Guardiola insisted that he wanted the midfielder to continue. Had he not, there is no doubt that Thiago would have gone. But there were doubts and, with money tight, some of those were quietly expressed -- helping fuel rumors in the media.

Real enter Fabregas chase | Sky Sports
The Spanish midfielder has been linked with a return to his homeland for some time, having progressed through the youth ranks at Barca before joining the Gunners at the start of his senior career. A move back to Camp Nou had appeared the most likely scenario if Arsenal did decide to let the 24-year-old leave, but the two clubs have never been able to agree on a fee.

Super-sub Sergio Aguero rescues Argentina as Lavezzi, Tevez & Messi combination fails to ignite | Goal
Lionel Messi, Carlos Tevez and Ezequiel Lavezzi are three of the most talented forwards on the planet, but tonight neither of the three showed anything like their full potential. Individually, they showed only sporadic bursts of what they can do, and collectively at times it was painful to see them fumble and blunder in an attempt to create coherent attacking play.

Manchester City & Barcelona paired in youth NextGen series as groups for Liverpool, Tottenham & Aston Villa are announced | Goal
Alongside the news that Ajax will be in the tournament was the drawing of the four groups of four. There are mouth-watering ties in each, with the pairing of Manchester City and Barcelona standing out in particular.

'Happy' Nolito reveals Benfica are not inferior to Barcelona | Goal
The Spanish midfielder has penned a five-year contract with Benfica and joins the club on a free transfer after enjoying an impressive season with Barcelona's B squad. Nolito is delighted to have joined Benfica and thinks there are not many differences between his new club and his former home.

Inscription period opens | LFP
On Friday 1st July, the inscription period for the 2011/12 campaign officially opened. Trading will remain open until midnight on 31st August. The second and final transfer window for the new season will open on 2nd January 2012 and close on the 31st of the same month.

West Brom's Valero completes Villarreal move | Eurosport
Spanish midfielder Borja Valero has made his move from West Brom to Villarreal permanent after initially spending last season on loan at the Liga outfit. Valero, 26, became the Baggies' record signing when he joined from Real Mallorca for £4.7 million in 2008 but he failed to settle at the Hawthorns and returned to Mallorca on a season-long loan a year later.

Besiktas sign Valencia's Manuel Fernandes in €2m deal | Goal
Besiktas have confirmed the full transfer of Manuel Fernandes following the end of his loan spell from Valencia. The Portuguese international midfielder, 25, joined the Turkish club in January on loan and was expected to return to Spain after the deal expired. However, Besiktas announced on Friday that he has signed a three-year deal.

Gabi rejoins Athletico Madrid | Eurosport
The 27-year-old midfielder has played 142 games during his four seasons in Zaragoza, the last two of which saw him wear the captain's armband and returns to Athletico hoping to establish himself in the first team which he couldn't do in his first time there.

Malaga sign defender Sanchez from Sevilla | Eurosport
Big-spending Malaga have agreed to buy central defender Sergio Sanchez from Sevilla, their eighth signing of the close season, the Qatari-owned La Liga club said on Friday. "Both Andalusian clubs have reached an agreement today for the transfer of the defender Sergio Sanchez," Malaga said in an emailed statement.

Real Betis renew Petcoff's contract | LFP
Real Betis' Argentinian midfielder Damián Petcoff has reached agreement with the club to renew his contract for another season, with the option of a further two-year extension. Petcoff, who played for the reserve team in the recently-finished season, will train with the first team under Pepe Mel's orders.

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