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Barcelona deny rejecting a bid from Gerard Pique for a stake in Barca Studios

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Barcelona have denied rejecting a bid from defender Gerard Pique to buy a stake in Barca Studios.

Barca sold just under 50% of the subsidiary company this summer for around €200 million to help fund the signings of Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha and Jules Kounde.

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A report in Diari Ara this week claimed that Pique, through his company Kosmos, had wanted to invest in Barca Studios and had been left frustrated that the club rebuffed his offer in favour of other proposals.

"In light of the information published in the newspaper Ara, Barcelona strongly deny that the club president [Joan Laporta] has ever received an offer to purchase part of Barca Studios from Pique or his company," the Catalan club said in a statement on Wednesday.

"We find the spreading of uncorroborated information that can affect the standing and honour of Barcelona's [players] lamentable."

After selling 25% of their LaLiga television rights for the next 25 years to Sixth Street, Barca sold 24.5% of Barca Studios to Socios for around €100m.

However, despite those deals, they were still unable to register all their summer signings, so they sold a further 24.5% of Barca Studios, this time to Orpheus Media for another €100m.

Barca Studios is the club's in-house production business, but the club say the partnership with Socios and Orpheus Media will help to "accelerate the growth of the club's digital, NFT and Web.3 strategy."

The sale of club assets was approved by members, who have also given the board permission to sell up to 50% of the club's merchandising rights if they need a further cash injection.

Pique, through Kosmos, has invested heavily in sport in recent years. He is the owner of Spanish second division club Andorra and recently revamped the tennis competition the Davis Cup.

Last season, Kosmos also purchased the rights to Ligue 1 in France, broadcasting Lionel Messi's debut for Paris Saint-Germain on Twitch in collaboration with Spanish streamer Ibai Llanos.

Pique, now 35, has not featured for Barca on the pitch this season. He has been an unused substitute in each of their four league games following the arrivals of centre-backs Andreas Christensen and Kounde in the transfer window.