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The Toe Poke
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Marquez unclear on future

Former Barcelona defender Rafael Marquez insists his future has yet to be decided despite reports he has agreed to join New York Red Bulls.

Marquez, 31, is currently a free agent after his release this summer, but he insists he is keeping his options open before committing to a deal.

"Nothing is definite yet," he told the official Barcelona website. "We are still negotiating with two options and I hope to be able to make the best decision."

Asked about his decision to leave Barca, he added: "I have completed a cycle with Barcelona and seven years is a long time. I have won everything and now I want to play regularly and have more minutes.

"I talked with Pep [Guardiola] and he has other priorities and I am ambitious and do not want to sit on the bench or in the stand watching games. That is why I have left.

"I thought about it a lot. First, I focused on the World Cup finals and my first thoughts were to stay, but then I spoke to Pep about going and now I am convinced that leaving was the best option.

"I had talked to Pep before the season finished and was already considering going and that looked to be the most probable thing because he placed his confidence in other players in my position."

Marquez remains grateful to Guardiola, however, after he restored discipline in the dressing room and led the team to success on all fronts in the 2009 season.

Barca had been off course under Frank Rijkaard prior to Guardiola's arrival and, while Marquez praised the Dutchman's work, he admits there was "a lack of order" towards the end of his reign.

"The quality and the desire to win was always there, but little-by-little we lost the discipline required," Marquez said. "I think that was the main reason why the team stopped functioning.

"I think that we were all criticised during 2008 and many changes had to be made. Guardiola arrived and talked to me and made me feel important by giving me more responsibility. That was crucial for me and I regained my confidence."

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