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Over-used Mertesacker in need of rest

Arsenal
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By ESPN Staff

Guardiola given Easter contract deadline by Barca

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola must decide on his future by Easter, according to club president Joan Laporta.

Guardiola has steered Barca to an incredible six trophies during his year and a half in charge at the Nou Camp - his first managerial appointment.

The Catalan giants are keen to tie Guardiola to a long-term deal but the 38-year-old has yet to put pen to paper on an extension with his current contract set to expire in the summer.

And Laporta claims Guardiola has to do so by April or the club will have to do the unthinkable and start the search for a new coach.

"We're not going to pressure Guardiola and we'll give him a reasonable time to think,'' said the Barca chief. "But before Holy Week the club need a response on his continuity.

"The moment will arrive in which something will have to be made clear. That is a date that's more than prudent. There would be time to look for alternatives, although that is something I don't even want to think about because Guardiola has an enormous future at Barcelona.

"But I repeat that in Holy Week it would be good to know who will be our coach with the aim of having time to prepare for the next season. The sooner we know the coach's future, the better for the club.''

Laporta remains confident Guardiola will pen a new deal at the Nou Camp.

He added: "I have well-founded hopes that he will continue to lead the team for several seasons. For Barca, the best thing would be for Guardiola to continue. And, although I am no-one to talk about Pep's interests, I think that it would also be the best for him.

"He could mark an era. All the club believe in him and I believe Guardiola's continuity is a unanimous desire of all the Barcelona fans.''

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