Guardiola clears way for sale of big three
Updated: June 17, 2008, 2:49 PM UK
New Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola has revealed Ronaldinho, Deco and Samuel Eto'o are not part of his plans for next season while also ruling out a summer bid for Cristiano Ronaldo.
Guardiola, a former Barcelona captain, was officially unveiled today as the Catalan club's first-team coach.
And he admitted the big name trio - all of whom have been linked with moves to the Premier League - are surplus to requirements.
'All of the players in the first-team squad last season are of a very high level,' he said. 'But with the technical secretary we are forming a squad and Deco, Ronaldinho and Eto'o are not in our minds.'
However, Guardiola admitted he would be happy to keep Ronaldinho if the Brazilian could recapture his best form.
'If I felt that he wanted to be the player he was again, he would be here,' he added. 'But the situation has deteriorated and the solution is to build a strong dressing-room.'
The imminent departure of the Brazilian and the recent exit of Giovani Dos Santos to Tottenham means Guardiola will be short of options on the left flank, but the 37-year-old ruled out a summer swoop for Manchester United winger Ronaldo.
'I wouldn't make a space for him in the team, even though I think he is a very good player,' he said.
Guardiola said the club's priority is to sign a striker.
'We will look at the possibility of bringing in a winger, but if we don't then that's fine; the priority is a number nine,' he said.
He joked: 'We are looking for a number nine who scores 60 goals for us.'
However, the coach claimed Thierry Henry remains very much part of his plans, despite an indifferent first season at the Nou Camp.
He said: 'I am looking for a number nine, we need one to complement Henry and Bojan (Krkic). I want the three to feel like first-team starters.'
Guardiola confirmed star winger Lionel Messi is very much part of his plans, but revealed he will not build his team around the young Argentina forward.
'He is a player we are very interested in keeping,' he said. 'I am very much counting on him, but we shouldn't put all the weight of a club on the shoulders of one player.
'We will help him and try to stop him getting injured.'
Guardiola also warned the youngster that he will have to defend more than under previous coach Frank Rijkaard.
'He must feel part of the group and feel that when other teams score against us, it is partly his fault,' he said.
Nevertheless, the former Barcelona captain revealed he will impose an attacking philosophy as coach of the team he has supported since he was a boy.
'We have to go and look for the win, I am an absolute fan of attacking football,' he said. 'When I see the ball closer to the opponents' goal, I am more relaxed.
'I have read that we are only signing defenders, but we will attack better if we have a better defence and defend better if we have a good attack.'
The 37 year-old, who led Barcelona's youth team to promotion on Monday, says he is now eager to get started with the first-team.
'I am not here to ask for time or a honeymoon period of 100 days,' he said. 'I am really satisfied to be here and I know this is a great responsibility. I can't wait to get started, there is no time to waste.'
Despite his lack of coaching experience and the enormous pressure of coaching Barcelona, Guardiola believes he is up to the task.
He said: 'I feel I won't fail (sporting director) Txiki (Begiristain) or president (Joan) Laporta because I am prepared.
'I understand the doubts about me and my experience.
'I know I am here because of my time as player at the club, but I feel that in a couple of months, the doubts will decrease because I am convinced that I can do a good job.'
However, the former Spain midfielder refused to promise immediate success.
'I can't and won't promise titles from the first day because I think that would be a mistake,' he said.
Lets sign Eto then?