The Lucas Barrios saga continues to rage in media outlets across Europe and Asia, with Guangzhou Evergrande taking the unusual step of making contact with German magazine Kicker through their lawyers over allegations that they had not paid the Paraguayan striker on time in recent months.
The club have been swift to respond to the claims, both with a legal letter and an official club statement regarding the widely circulated claims. In response to the club’s swift rebuttal, Kicker have since removed the article within 24 hours of publication as Evergrande seek to ensure that their reputation as an employer is not affected.
A leaked copy of the supposed letter to Kicker magazine (not authenticated) has been circulating on the internet, in which the club state that they have never failed to meet their contractual demands to Barrios, whose deal runs until 2016.
The striker, though, has been absent from the club since attending an international fixture on June 8, missing the resumption of the Chinese Super League season this past weekend.
The club, though, remain keen for Barrios to return to China, and, while he will face punishment for his actions, reports suggest that Evergrande would still be content for him to rejoin the squad if he were to show remorse for his actions.
Evergrande chairman Liu Yongzhuo told Chinese media outlets on Monday: “Our attitude now has always been that we hope Barrios will return to Guangzhou. We hope he will come and resolve matters. If he remains in Europe, we cannot sort anything.”
Reports that Barrios is willing to pay the club a €4.5 million fee to end his contract are, as yet, unsubstantiated. However, it is fairly certain that the player would be willing to take a significant pay cut to join a club in Europe or South America.
Responding to questions over Barrios’ future role at the club, Evergrande coach Marcello Lippi told his pre-match press conference on Monday: “We don’t need to submit a list of players for the Champions League until it restarts, so now is not the best time to discuss that. If both sides can find an agreement, it’s for the best. If not, we will choose a new foreign player.”
Jokingly he added: “I have told the club that any one of Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi or Balotelli will be fine.”
It is fast developing into an unsavoury situation for the Cantonese side, who have an unblemished record regarding meeting contractual obligations to players.
Barrios would appear to be seeking to engineer a move away from the club, but Evergrande remain well within their rights to point to €6.7 million/year contract that the player signed just last year, as well as the €8.5 million paid to secure his services.
Unless a suitable offer is made for the player, or there is some significant backtracking, it is a saga that could rumble on for some time.
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