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Barcelona dismiss claims of City swoop

Barcelona sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta has dismissed stories that Manchester City's new ex-Barca directors will raid their former club for players and technical staff.

With Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain having joined the Premier League champions as chief executive and sporting director in recent weeks, speculation has grown that City will recruit Josep Guardiola and make big-money moves for Cesc Fabregas and Sergio Busquets and youngsters Cristiano Tello and Jean Marie Dongou.

Backroom staff, including current director Raul Sanllehi and first team doctor Ricard Pruna, are also reportedly being targeted.

On Saturday, rumours circulated that Begiristain was at Camp Nou to watch Barca's 3-1 Primera Division win over Real Zaragoza.

However, Catalan daily Mundo Deportivo said on Monday that had been a misunderstanding based on Begiristain's physical likeness to Luis Carlos Cuartero, a former player who is now technical secretary at the club.

Zubizarreta, speaking to reporters as he accompanied Barcelona to Russia, where they will take on Spartak Moscow in the Champions League on Tuesday, said: "If we go by everything that people are saying in the English press, we would not have any players left, or even our training ground."

The former Barcelona and Spain international goalkeeper said Tuesday's game had grown in importance after the 2-1 defeat at Celtic in the last round of Champions League fixtures.

"The objective is to achieve qualification as soon as possible," he said. "We need to win on Tuesday to do that.

"In Glasgow, we could not seal it. We hope to do so in Moscow, although we know it will be difficult as Spartak have their last chance to go through."

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