Jeremy Mathieu asks for transfer
Barcelona target Jeremy Mathieu has urged Valencia not to deny him the chance to move to "the biggest club in the world."
Barca have been closely linked with Mathieu as they look to strengthen their defence following the retirement of captain Carles Puyol, but Valencia insist they will only sell the 30-year-old Frenchman if his 20-million-euro release clause is met.
With developments seemingly at an impasse, Mathieu issued a press release on Thursday night asking Valencia to open negotiations in a bid to push through a move -- although he did not mention Barcelona by name in the statement.
The statement, produced in full by several Spanish newspapers, read: "I don't wish this statement to be interpreted as way of forcing a situation to provoke my exit from Valencia, but to tell the truth about the situation I'm going through.
"Valencia have an offer on the table from an important club for my services. I won't hide the fact that for me it would mean a step forward in my career in every sense. It's the reward for my work, my effort and is a unique opportunity that any player would like to take advantage of.
"I joined Valencia free five years ago, and this operation would be beneficial for all parties involved.
"In this time I've always tried to give my best, showing my professionalism and my affection to the club at every moment, but I think this is the time to take a step forward and close and cycle at a club which I will always carry in my heart and who I will always be eternally grateful to whatever happens.
"I ask Valencia and their president, Amadeo Salvo, to understand the current situation and accept to negotiate my exit. I have the opportunity to play at the biggest club in the world and this is the only thing that I want at this point, but without forgetting all that Valencia have given me and I want to leave in the best manner possible."
Mathieu joined Valencia in 2009 from Toulouse, having previously played for Sochaux in his homeland. The defender has won two caps for France, but was not part of their World Cup squad this summer.
Earlier on Thursday, Valencia announced the signing of Portuguese midfielder Andre Gomes from Benfica after he passed his medical.
The 20-year-old put pen to paper on a deal on Thursday and was officially unveiled as a Los Che player after its completion.
Gomes told the club's official website: "I am very happy to be at this great club. I am very happy. I promise to give the maximum to the team."
Gomes played 19 times for Benfica last season, scoring two goals as Jorge Jesus' side clinched the Primeira Liga title and reached the final of the Europa League.
He has been capped six times by Portugal at Under-21 level and represented his country at the European Under-19 Championship in 2012.
Gomes was called up to the senior squad by Paulo Bento for a friendly against Ecuador in February 2013, but was an unused substitute in the 3-2 defeat to the South Americans.