Report: Manchester City football director refuses Barcelona return

Txiki Begiristain has come under fire at the Etihad, following a disappointing campaign in the Premier League and the Champions League.

A report published in the Sunday Times has claimed that Txiki Begiristain, football director at Manchester City and in charge of key squad building decisions, has turned down an opportunity of returning to La Liga giants, Barcelona, even though his future is also said to be in doubt with the English club.

Suggestions within the report point towards the owners of Manchester City, not being overly impressed with the prospect the team will finish without silverware, which has also lead to speculation that along with manager, Manuel Pellegrini, the future of Begiristain isn't entirely secure either.

When Begiristain left for England, his direct replacement as sporting director at Barcelona was another iconic former player, Andoni Zubizarreta, who was ultimately sacked by the Catalan club in January 2015, during a period of institutional crisis. This included the ongoing legal investigations into the transfer of Brazilian star, Neymar, along with the FIFA transfer ban for signing under-age players, in breach their regulations.

Following the defeat Barcelona suffered on Sunday 4th January away at Real Sociedad, there was further criticism levelled at Zubizarreta, but in comments to broadcaster Canal Plus, (via Inside Spanish Football), regarding his own level of culpability for the FIFA ban, he explained:

"As the director of football, I assume full accountability for my responsibilities. Mr. Bartomeu is the one who knows the situation better than anyone, as he was the sporting vice president during that time."

Those comments and the notable pointing of blame didn't sit at all well with the club president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, who announced the termination of Zubizarreta's contract, via the official club website, less than twenty-four hours later.

Moving forward, Barcelona have since appointed what they have titled as the 'Football Area Technical Commission', which along with existing directors at the club, Jordi Mestre and Javier Bordas, plus technical assessor Carles Rexach, saw the arrival of Italian, Ariedo Braida, whose official role is that of international sporting director.

As such, it seems highly unlikely that the current Barcelona board headed by Bartomeu, will have made the Sunday Times reported approach to Begiristain at Manchester City. With presidential elections on the horizon though, Catalan outlet Sport believes such an enquiry, will most likely have been made by one of the pre-electoral competitors of the current club president.

One of the main contenders at present to run against Bartomeu, is Agusti Benedito, who also ran for the presidency in 2010 and has declared his intention to stand again. Another and perhaps more interestingly, although he hasn't officially yet declared whether he's to stand, is former president Joan Laporta, for whom Begiristain was the sporting director between 2003 and 2010 and with resounding success.

It appears the preference of Begiristain, for now and as long as he's tasked, is to remain at Manchester City, rebuild a squad to challenge again for titles, overseeing what is expected to be a big summer of spending. For that reason and for now, there's no interest in a return to Barcelona. But should his circumstances change, those challenging for the presidency of the Catalan club, will be sure to call him again.

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