Barcelona have moved closer towards keeping Javier Mascherano, after Juventus general director Giuseppe Marotta appeared to concede the Serie A giants had lost the battle to lure the Argentine away from the Nou Camp. However, Marotta did announce that Dani Alves will arrive in Turin next week to complete his free-agent move from the reigning La Liga champions.
The futures of both Mascherano and Alves were called into question last month when Sport reported the pair had agreed personal terms to move to Juventus.
Barcelona technical director Robert Fernandez confirmed Alves was able to move to Serie A on a free due to a break clause inserted in the two-year deal he signed last summer. However, Fernandez added that Mascherano still has a contract at the Nou Camp and the club would make every effort possible to keep him, as the former Liverpool star is a crucial figure for Luis Enrique's back-line.
The Argentine denied any agreement with Juventus at the time, but refused to say if he would continue with Barcelona amid rumours he was unhappy with club officials.
Reports in Spain then claimed Barcelona were ready to give Mascherano a pay rise to keep him at the club, and it looks as though they have now warded off Juventus's approach.
Asked about the chances of signing Mascherano and Valencia's coveted star Andre Gomes, Marotta said, as quoted by La Gazzetta Dello Sport: "Barcelona have closed things down for Mascherano and Valencia's request for the Portuguese [player] is pretty high. At the moment they are pretty utopian targets."
Marotta did confirm that Alves is ready to become the club's second signing of the summer, after last week's confirmation of a deal for Miralem Pjanic from Roma.
"We have made two important signings with Miralem Pjanic and Dani Alves as we worked on the market and started building the team for next season. The Brazilian will be in Turin starting from next week."
The Juventus general director also confirmed that the Serie A giants wants to keep Paul Pogba, but Alvaro Morata will return to Real Madrid as the Spanish giants are ready to activate a buy-back option to lure him to the Santiago Bernabeu.