Barcelona President Josep Maria Bartomeu has confirmed the club will go into the transfer market to replace Carles Puyol.
Puyol announced on Tuesday that he was leaving Camp Nou at the end of this season and speaking on TV3, Bartomeu paid tribute to the departing captain.
“I’m sad for what it means for Puyol,” Bartomeu said.
“But I’m happy with the path he has taken at this club. I don’t know what he’ll do in the future but he’s welcome to return to Barca.
“His spirit and determination would teach the younger players well.
“If this was America we’d retire his shirt number and hang it high in Camp Nou.”
Bartomeu added that no one was present at Puyol’s Press conference at the request of the man himself, and that Puyol told the Barca hierarchy last week that he wanted to leave.
“There are no central defenders at the club that can replace Puyol,” Bartomeu added.
“So we will look. [There will be two signings] – a centre-back and a goalkeeper.”
Bartomeu also confirmed the club’s intention to retain Tata Martino for at least next season, despite not yet speaking with the Coach about his future.
The President also insisted no offer to rename Camp Nou has been received, and he will not consider his position should the members vote on renovating Camp Nou go against him.
“This is a proposal of the club so whatever happens, the policy will continue,” Bartomeu said.
“Barca is a living club which is constantly updated and we do it because it’s a necessity. By 2021 we will have the most modern facilities in the world.”
Bartomeu was asked about the long-running Neymar saga, the resignation of his predecessor Sandro Rosell, and the future of Lionel Messi.
“We believe we are in the right [in the Neymar case]. We have done everything legal and the board is united, cohesive.
“Rosell resigned for personal reasons, not because of Neymar.
“[On Messi] The Messi family has a cordial relationship with Barca and we want Leo to be the highest paid player in the world.
“He isn’t for sale. He grew up here and is a player who is our icon. We wish that he continues here and ends his career here.”
Bartomeu also paid tribute to former Barca Coach Pep Guardiola and his impressive start at Bayern, stressing that if Barca have to meet their former boss in the Champions League, he hopes it’s as late as possible.
“[Guardiola] is doing a great job at Bayern. If we cross, I hope it’s in the final.”