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Alex Song ready for Barca debut

New Barcelona defensive midfielder Alex Song said Tuesday his two sons are excited about their dad's transfer from Arsenal because "Both are big fans of (Lionel) Messi. When they play in the garden they pretend to be him.

"Messi is the best player in the world, he has an impressive talent, and it is a pleasure to be able to play with him," said Song, 24, who spoke at Camp Nou during the Catalonian team's official press conference Tuesday.

The Cameroon international passed his physical at Barca Monday and signed his five-year contract with the La Liga power worth 19 million euros ($23.4 million). He is on the official lineup to start Thursday when Barca hosts Real Madrid to kick off the Spanish Super Cup.

Song, whose contract has a buyout clause of 80 million euros ($98.5 million), joined his new teammates for the official team presentation at Camp Nou for the Joan Gamper Trophy Monday night, where the Catalan club dropped a tuneup to Sampdoria,1-0.

Barca sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta said that Song had been Barca's first choice to fill the gap in midfield left by Seydou Keita's departure, and it was unlikely there would be any further new arrivals at the club this summer.

"He was top of our list of potential signings," Zubizarreta said. "He is good on the ball, good tactically and physically strong. The deal with Arsenal has gone through quickly. We now have the squad we wanted."

Reports in the UK had suggested that the move had damaged Song's relationship with Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, but the player said there were no hard feelings on either side.

"I want to thank Arsenal and Arsene Wenger for letting me come here," Song said. "I wanted to make the move and I am happy to have taken this decision. I have no problems with Wenger.

"At Arsenal I played in two positions [centre back and defensive midfielder]. I'm ready to play wherever I am needed," Song said, adding that his intention is not to steal the place of Sergio Busquets, who is "the best in his position."

Information from Press Association and Efe News Agency was used in this report.

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