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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Feb 21, 2011

Guardiola laughs off Wilshere talk

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola has laughed off suggestions he might try to sign Arsenal midfield Jack Wilshere.

Wilshere, 19, was one of the Gunners' best players in their 2-1 over Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie at the Emirates in midweek, more than holding his own against the likes of Xavi and Andres Iniesta.

The England international even outshined his captain, Cesc Fabregas, whom Barcelona are eager to bring back to the Nou Camp. Guardiola, though, admitted he would not be making a move for Wilshere, and also hinted his side would find it tough to prise Fabregas away from north London.

''He (Wilshere) is a great player - a great player for Arsenal,'' the Barca coach said. ''And in any case, (Arsenal manager) Arsene Wenger doesn't sell his best players.''

Guardiola claimed he expects a stern test from Wenger's side in the return leg of their Champions League clash at the Nou Camp.

''Arsenal are a wonderful side,'' he said. ''You will not hear me discredit Arsenal - they are a great side with a great coach and they will be a very difficult opponent. It will be a great game against a great team.''

There had been talk in Spain of a mini-crisis for Barcelona after the Catalans had failed to beat Sporting Gijon last weekend and then lost at Arsenal, but a hard-fought 2-1 win over Athletic saw normal order restored.

Barca were not at their best but still moved back five points ahead of Real Madrid in the Primera Division with 14 league games left.

''To be five points ahead of Madrid is a total success,'' Guardiola said. ''They are a great team and they have a coach who has not lost a home game for nine years. For me, there is no better team in Europe.''

Barca face their arch-rivals in the final of the Copa del Rey in April and could yet meet Jose Mourinho's side in the latter stages of the Champions League. Guardiola said winning becomes more difficult every year.

''People say that it's easier because we have been together for longer,'' he said. ''But every year it gets harder; you don't see Rafael Nadal beating Roger Federer 6-0, 6-1, 6-0, just like you didn't see the Chicago Bulls winning easily when Michael Jordan was playing - sometimes they won with the last shot of the game.''

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