Barcelona have issued a statement on their website demanding that authors, as well as the news outlet themselves, retract comments that suggest club president Josep Maria Bartomeu signed Brazilian midfielder Paulinho because of the interests of a company he owns.

The statement warns that if these allegations are not retracted, then Barcelona, as well as Bartomeu as an individual, will look to take legal action against the outlet where these comments were made.

The statement, issued on the club website, reads: “This morning FC Barcelona have requested a retraction to the authors of the article as well as to the media outlet that published the story in which the president of the Club, Josep Maria Bartomeu, is accused of having signed the player Paulinho Bezerra as part of a deal which favoured the interests of his company.

Given the false nature of this news story and the fact that it implies an illegal activity has taken place, if a retraction is not forthcoming both the Club and the president as an individual will take the corresponding legal steps. These steps will include a specific request for damages incurred with regards to the image of the Club.

FC Barcelona will not tolerate false information to be published which may damage the Club or those who form part of said Club and it calls for professional responsibility from those who have made use of the story without corroborating the information published.”

Brazil v Argentina - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Qualifier

Barcelona are still believed to be active in the transfer market, having sold Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain for a world record transfer fee of €222m. Previously linked with Italian international Marco Verratti, attentions have now been turned to Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho and Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembélé as potential recruits in Catalonia.