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Roma's chance to bounce back

AS Roma

Barcelona dismiss Guardiola exit claims

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has shrugged off speculation linking coach Pep Guardiola with a move to Manchester United and insisted he is "convinced'' the Spaniard will sign a new deal to stay at the Nou Camp.

Guardiola, who turned 39, has been linked in reports with a move to Old Trafford as Sir Alex Ferguson's eventual replacement, after making a phenomenally successful start to his coaching career with the Catalan giants.

Barcelona won six trophies under Guardiola last season, including a Champions League victory over United in Rome, and stretched their advantage over Real Madrid at the top of the Primera Division to five points with a 4-0 weekend win over Sevilla.

Guardiola's contract expires at the end of the current season which has led to growing concern that he may leave. But Laporta is convinced the coach will turn his back on a possible future in the Premier League and continue to guide Barcelona to success.

Laporta said: "We cannot avoid the speculation as he is the best coach in the world and many clubs will be interested. We know that and Manchester United are just one club who I am sure are watching his future.

"But he has a long way to go with Barcelona. Because of his characteristics we expect him to continue to write the pages of history of this football club.

"We would like to solve this question mark over his future as soon as possible and we are convinced that he will sign but we must respect his decision to wait.

"We are convinced that he will sign a new contract and that he will sign soon but we cannot force him into a decision. We must be patient and wait. Yesterday we talked about his birthday. I sent him a card with my congratulations but we will see what happens.''


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