Guardiola wants Sanchez before Fabregas

AP, Tuesday 19 Jul 2011

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola’s main priority is to reinforce the team’s attack with Chile forward Alexis Sanchez, but confirmed the club is also negotiating with Arsenal for midfielder Cesc Fabregas

Alexis Sanchez

“We need a forward. We have more players in midfield than in attack,” Guardiola said Tuesday in his first news conference since lifting the Champions League trophy at Wembley Stadium earlier this summer.

“Bojan (Krkic) and Jeffren (Suarez) both want to leave, so the attack is more important.”

While Barcelona will keep the main core of last season’s championship squad, it will be challenged by a Real Madrid side that has bolstered its bench with a number of offseason signings.

“The number of games on the calendar is scary,” said Guardiola, whose team will add the Club World Cup to its domestic and European competitions this season.

Guardiola highlighted that Sanchez’s versatility suits Barca’s offensive system which requires its forwards to constantly exchange positions to make its short passing game click.

“(Sanchez) is a young player who can play in all three positions in attack,” Guardiola said. “He was the best fit for the profile of player we were looking for. We hope we can be lucky enough to bring him here.”

Barcelona sports director Andoni Zubizarreta added that a deal with Sanchez’s Italian club Udinese was “in the final stretch.”

Guardiola is entering his fourth season at the helm of the Catalan giants, and reaffirmed that the club would “try to the very last minute” to also bring in Fabregas.

“Last season Arsenal didn’t want to negotiate (for Fabregas). This year they have accepted to negotiate and we are working at it,” Guardiola said. “The club has the money to sign him. We will try to the very end to bring him here. Until Aug. 31 there is time.”

The former Barcelona player turned coach insisted that Fabregas’ arrival would not create a logjam in a midfield already stocked with Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta and youngster Thiago Alcantara, who recently led Spain to the under-20 European championship.

“The midfield is our foundation,” he said. “We can never have too many players. Cesc can help us in many ways.”

Zubizarreta said that Bojan, who has struggled to break into the starting lineup since Guardiola’s arrival, is close to leaving for Roma.

“A deal will be closed very soon,” Zubizarreta said.

After a preseason tour in the United States, Barcelona opens the season on Aug. 14 against Real Madrid in the first leg of the Spanish Supercup.

Barcelona will then begin its campaign for a fourth straight Spanish league crowns under Guardiola.

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