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Tito Vilanova: Afellay will start the season with us

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Official: Schalke signs Afellay on loan
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Official: Schalke signs Afellay on loan

Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova has guaranteed that Ibrahim Afellay will not leave the club in the summer transfer window.

The Netherlands international's future at Camp Nou has been a hot topic of debate in recent weeks after a knee ligament injury kept him sidelined for most of the 2011-12 season.

Barca had reportedly offered Afellay to both Arsenal and Inter in an attempt to raise funds for the transfer of Athletic Bilbao midfielder Javi Martinez, but Vilanova is confident that the 26-year-old will remain at the club - at least until January.

"Afellay is a player of great class, there is no doubt about it," Vilanova told Dutch TV channel NUsport. "Like always, he is part of our selection. We will begin the season with him."

The Blaugrana chief then lamented that Lionel Messi will not be able to take part in the club's preseason friendly against Hamburg on Tuesday after sustaining an injury in training.

"It is a shame that Messi will not be part of the team during our trip to Germany," the 42-year-old added.

"He was ready to go when he arrived at Camp Nou, but now he will stay in Spain to recover from his groin injury."

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